Issuu on Google+


inside this issue February 2017 / Vol. 43 / Issue 2

COVER STORY

32 THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER

While carbon capture, storage and utilisation is not exactly new science, it’s still very much on the periphery of our green consciousness. Will the ambitious Paris Agreement targets revive efforts to scale up the implementation of this critically important technology?

24 INVESTING IN RELATIONSHIPS

Wealth and investment management needs to be built on a comprehensive understanding of the clients’ objectives and financial personality.

26 A RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS THE FUTURE

Educator and media professional Everette Dennis is a man with a mission of building a strong research enhanced media industry that will stand the test of leaders, policies and forces that oppose freedom of expression globally.

42 QATAR: AN IDEAL PLACE FOR WORK

What makes Qatar such a great place for employment and for living? Here are some of the answers that Bayt.com was able to reveal.

44 NEW STRATEGY, NEW DILEMMA

What does the announcement of the muchanticipated Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy mean for GCC-EU relations?

48 “FIND YOUR NICHE”

Tennis announcer Andy Taylor has been working at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and Qatar Total Open since 2014. He is also a radio and voice-over artist.


inside this issue February 2017 / Vol. 43 / Issue 2

SPOTLIGHT

58 THE ART OF GIVING BACK

Something new and fresh is afoot in Qatar’s business world. Corporate social responsibility is evolving beyond philanthropy, becoming more strategic and organisationally embedded.

20 QATAR: YEAR IN REVIEW

Stability and consolidation were Qatar’s watchwords in 2016, as the government continued to make longterm investments in national infrastructure at a time of restricted economic growth in the region.

22 UNREADY UK

The start of 2017 is peppered with political risks including the German presidential election and a general election in the Netherlands. But it is the UK which presents us with the biggest threat of all – Brexit.

50 TAX REFORMS ON THE ANVIL

54 A NEW BRAND IN DOHA

With the arrival of Business Park’s Holiday Inn, General Manager Marcus Sutton is challenging traditional hotelier practices and looking forward to the future of tourism in Qatar.

68 TAKING THE PULSE OF ITS CUSTOMERS

Jumeirah Group CEO Stefan Leser talks about the company's expansion drive and the importance of understanding the market.

71 ON THE TRADING FLOOR

College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q) recently partnered with Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) to offer the college’s Business Studies students a taste of working in a stimulating stock market environment.

The days of tax-free regimes in the GCC region are set to end with the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) confirming that Qatar will introduce a 5% value-added tax (VAT) from January 1, 2018.

and regulars 12

NEWS BITES

15

REALTY CHECK

16

OIL & GAS REVIEW

17

BANK NOTES

66

TECH TALK

72

MARKET WATCH

74

AUTO NEWS

78

DOHA DIARY


PUBLISHER & EDITOR IN CHIEF YOUSUF BIN JASSIM AL DARWISH MANAGING DIRECTOR & CEO JASSIM BIN YOUSUF AL DARWISH MANAGER DR FAISAL FOUAD EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR SINDHU NAIR DEPUTY EDITOR IZDIHAR IBRAHIM SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS AYSWARYA MURTHY UDAYAN NAG KARIM EMAM CORRESPONDENTS AARTHI MOHAN KEERTANA KODURU

/

ART SENIOR ART DIRECTOR VENKAT REDDY DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR HANAN ABU SAIAM ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR AYUSH INDRAJITH SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER MAHESHWAR REDDY PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT F ALTAMIRANO MARKETING & SALES MANAGER SAKALA A DEBRASS TEAM SONY VELLATT DENZITA SEQUIERA MATHEWS CHERIAN NISHAD N P EVENTS OFFICER GHAZALA MOHAMMED ACCOUNTANT PRATAP CHANDRAN DISTRIBUTION DEPARTMENT ESLAM ELMAHALAWY BIKRAM SHRESTHA ARJUN TIMILSINA BHIMAL RAI BASANTA POKHREL PRADEEP BHUSAL

PUBLISHED BY ORYX PUBLISHING & ADVERTISING CO WLL P.O. Box 3272; Doha-Qatar Tel: (+974) 44550983, 44671173, 44667584 Fax: (+974) 44550982 Email: info@oryxpublishing.com website: www.oryxpublishing.com www.issuu.com/oryxmags Copyright © 2017 Oryx Publishing & Advertising Co WLL The contents of this publication are subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher and/ or license holder. The publisher does not accept responsibility for any advertising content carried in this publication.


from the desk Twelve years in the publishing industry is not monumental, but twelve years in the publishing history of Qatar is substantial. You have then seen the country on the cusp of developmental transition, from a cozy, safe, almost sleepy town with a few vehicles comprising mostly of run-down yellow taxis and the mandatory four-wheelers owned by locals plying through not-so-busy roundabouts, to a cosmopolitan city teeming with bright blue-green taxis from Karwa and other private companies, long Mowasalat buses, and busy intersections with flyways transporting you through confusing labyrinths that ultimately take you to your destination that could well be situated among swanky glass buildings. You become one of the select few who had the opportunity to drive one of Mowasalat’s MAN buses in 2008 when the country’s first public transportation system was introduced; walk the Souq Waqif with the visionary Mohammed Ali who gave the Souq its look and feel; experience the exhilarating moment when the young prince HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani climbed a 26-degree ramp on a stallion to light the cauldron for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in 2006; attend the opening of the Museum of Islamic Arts with its architect, the great I M Pei, in 2008; be a part of most of the opening ceremonies of gas trains, the largest GTL project, the first Science and Technology Park in the region; actively participate in the COP meeting held in Doha; and then, finally, also walk around the brand-new Hamad International Airport before it opened to the public and peek through the tunnels which would one day accommodate the country’s first rail system. Looking back at the country’s outstanding past over the last 12 years of my career at Oryx Publishing and Advertising, I relive the best moments of my life as a journalist in Qatar. The opportunity to be part of this fast-paced progress is not one that comes to many in a lifetime, and I feel honoured to have played a small, if significant, role in presenting the stories as best I could and infusing my team with a passion for recounting stories about the country. It has been a journey I have loved with all my heart. With HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah

Now, as Qatar stands on the threshold of challenges – low oil prices, consolidation of businesses and uncertain media freedom and human rights advocacy – I pass my journalistic baton to my team in the firm belief that our commitment to authenticity will continue... Au Revoir!

SINDHU NAIR Managing Editor


affairs > local PRODIGAL PRESIDENT A handout picture provided by the Lebanese photo agency Dalati and Nohra shows HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani welcoming Lebanese President Michel Aoun upon his arrival in Doha on January 11. President Aoun said that Qatar’s support for his country has contributed to building the Lebanese State, praising the relations between the two countries. Responding to a question about his visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, he added that Lebanon was working towards restoring its natural relations with these Gulf states. “We are working on returning relations to their previous status, and we should work with confidence,” he said. STRINGER / AFP

NEW COMPANY TO MANAGE HIA The Executive Board of Directors of Qatar Airways Group announced the establishment of a new company to manage and operate Hamad International Airport (HIA) as an independent entity owned by the group.

H NEW LOW Qatar’s weather station in Abu Samra recorded at early morning the lowest temperature in the country’s history at 1.5°C. The new record low temperature is the lowest since the 3.8°C recorded in Mesaieed in January of 1964. Qatar Meteorology Department released a statement saying that the cold wave was a result of the advancement of a high-pressure area and an air mass close to regions in the country.

14 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

amad International Airport, located in Doha, Qatar, is strategically positioned within six hours of 80% of the world’s population. Having opened in 2014, the airport serves 30 million passengers a year and can handle 100 aircraft movements per hour on its dual runways. Within two years of its opening, HIA has earned several world-class awards and recognitions including the Skytrax 5-Star Airport award – the only Middle-Eastern airport to have earned this honour; Skytrax’s Middle East’s Best Airport in 2015 and 2016; Skytrax Best Staff Service in the Middle East 2016; and previously Best Airport Award at the Future Travel Experience (FTE) Asia Awards in 2015.

HIA is proud to be the official airport of Bayern Munich Football Club. Services and facilities at HIA include Qatar Duty Free, a premium shopping emporium with more than 40,000 square metres of combined retail and dining with more than 70 boutiques and 30 cafés and restaurants. HIA has an airside hotel, two airside squash courts, a gym, a 25-metre swimming pool and spa, all within easy reach of the departure gates. The airport has one of the largest freespan maintenance hangars in the world, a cutting-edge two-storey cargo facility, and one of the world’s largest self-contained catering facilities. Further expansion plans for the airport will expand its capacity to 50 million passengers.


EXPANDING UP NORTH

R

ussian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Igor Sechin, the CEO of oil giant Rosneft, meets with participants of the Rosneft privatisation deal: Bank Intesa CEO Carlo Messina, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Investment Authority, at the Kremlin in Moscow. On January 3, Swiss oil trading firm Glencore and QIA closed the deal on the purchase of 19.5% stake in Rosneft which was reportedly sold for €10.2 billion to a Singapore investment vehicle that Rosneft said was a 50/50 joint venture between Qatar and Glencore. The deal was also partly financed with Italian and Russian banks.

SETTING NEW RECORDS Qatar Airways launched its first service to Auckland, New Zealand, with the return leg set to be the longest scheduled commercial flight by flying time.

F

light QR920 between Doha and Auckland which is expected to take 16 hours and 20 minutes and the return service, taking 17 hours and 30 minutes, would be the world’s longest. Qatar Airways is using a Boeing 777 on the 14,534-kilometre flight, its first service to New Zealand, it said. Improvements in technology over the last decade have allowed more efficient fuel use, encouraging longer flights. The previous record for the world’s longest scheduled flight by flying time was held by fellow Gulf carrier Emirates, which launched direct flights to Auckland from Dubai in March 2016.

STUDYING SPORTS Secretary-General of Qatar Olympic

Committee (QOC), Dr Thani bin Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, launched a master's degree programme in sports law by Qatar Olympic Academy. The International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Council of Asia, and the Association of National Olympic Committees are cooperating with QOC for this course. Speaking at the launch, Al Kuwari said that they were proud to get approval to offer the programme, the first of its kind in the Middle East. The Secretary-General said the need for such education was realised given the increasing number of incidents in the region that require legal experts in sports law. He noted that the first year will see the curriculum offered in English, the following years will then see it offered in Arabic. The hope is that this will raise awareness on the legal side of sports regionally and internationally. It could also help participants present legal cases to regional and international entities. A total of 14 people can enrol in the one-year programme.

15 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > local

GAME, SET AND MATCH Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the winner’s trophy after beating Britain’s Andy Murray during their final tennis match at the ATP Qatar Open.

THE GRASS IS GREENER The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters was held at Doha Golf Club in January. South Korea’s Wang Jeunghun emerged victorious during this year’s tournament.

‘TIS THE SEASON FOR SPORTS

Qatar’s centre back Kamal Mallash works around Argentina’s wing Pablo Vainstein during the 25th IHF Men’s World Championship 2017 Group D handball match Qatar vs Argentina at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris.

A NEW PRACTICE GROUND Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski takes part in a training session at the Aspire Academy. A few weeks ago Hamad International Airport signed on as a corporate sponsor of the European club.

ON TRACK Toyota’s pilot and Qatari motorsport star Nasser Al Attiyah and his co-pilot Matthieu Baumel of France compete during the 2017 Dakar Rally Stage 1 between Asuncion and Resistencia, in Argentina.

16 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

ENDURING LEGACY


business > realty check Strong residential demand for mid-income housing will continue in Doha, as the population growth continues. ValuStrat, 2017 Qatar Market Outlook

AL FARIS TIES UP WITH TURKEY’S REALTY PORT

CRYSTAL LAGOONS SET FOR QATAR CHAPTER

I

n a move to establish its presence overseas, Qatari real estate firm Al Faris Group signed a deal with Turkish company Realty Port in January, according to a report. The agreement was signed by Sheikh Hashim Al Awadi, chairman of Al Faris Group, and Fateh Alrgeoffan, his counterpart at Realty Port. “With this deal, Al Faris plans to expand its base outside Qatar, especially in Turkey, which has recently experienced an influx of Qatari investments,” said Al Awadi. He further said that the company realised the importance of expansion in investment opportunities in the real estate sector. Realty Port has a variety of real estate projects, including apartments, villas, land and buildings all over Turkey, especially in Istanbul, Bursa, Trabzon and Antalya.

SLUMP IN DEMAND FOR OLD BUILDINGS Fear of demolition and options of better accommodation have heavily impacted the demand for old residential buildings and partitioned villas, the rents of which have gone down by up to 20%.

C

rystal Lagoons, which holds the Guinness world record for building the largest artificial lagoon, has its eyes set on Qatar’s tourism sector. The company has organised a series of meetings with Qatar-based real estate developers. Commenting on the strategy for Qatar, Crystal Lagoons’ regional director for the Middle East, Carlos Salas, said, “Essentially, we offer a sound return on investment because developers can charge a premium for properties overlooking — or even in the proximity of — our lagoons.” “Crystal Lagoons selected Doha as the stage for the unveiling of its latest film-based evaporation technology. The system, which is manufactured in Canada exclusively for Crystal Lagoons, lowers water-waste rates by up to 70% compared to conventional methods.” He added that by presenting its technologies to prominent real estate developers active in the country, Crystal Lagoons intends to capitalise on the 26.2 billion tourists expected in Qatar by 2025.

According to a report, industry sources have said that real estate experts are expecting a gradual population shift from Doha to outside areas because of massive government investment in developing areas. “Oversupply and relatively low demand for old buildings in areas like Najma, Mansoura and Old Airport have led to rents falling by 10-20%. “The majority of tenants now prefer new buildings with good maintenance services and facilities,” said Ahmed Al Arouqi, General Manager, Roots Real Estate. Arouqi also said that land prices remained very high in Doha and that very few plots were available for developers and even those were not being sold that easily. “The government is investing heavily in infrastructure projects and services in areas outside Doha, encouraging investors, tenants and companies to move to those places,” he added.

17 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > oil&gas IRAN RISING

IN NUMBERS The world’s biggest oil exporter is currently producing at a 22-month low. Saudi had agreed to cut 486,000 barrels a day to

Iran has been raising eyebrows with its unwavering determination to put its energy industry back on its feet since most Western sanctions against Tehran were lifted last year, and its progress so far is considerable. The news from the last two weeks alone include crude oil output close to 4 million barrels daily; the National Iranian Oil Company shortlisting 29 foreign companies to take part in oil and gas tenders to take place later this quarter; and the National Iranian Gas Company announced that it wants to build a $2.5 billion trunk gas pipeline, in partnership with Russian energy firms. Also since the start of January, an insurance business group announced that it has found a way around the remaining US sanctions against Iran, and will now offer almost full coverage for exportbound Iranian crude shipments, excluding US-based sector players. This will help Iran further boost its oil exports and possibly start filling gaps left by its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, which had to slash its own output by almost half a million barrels as per the OPEC agreement from November 30 last year.

I0.058

million barrels a day to reduce output to curb a supply glut.

OIL PRICE HAS BEEN STEADY

O

il has held above $50/bbl since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other countries agreed late last year to curtail supply by about 1.8 MMbpd. While Saudi Arabia says more than 80% (1.5 MMbpd) of the targeted cut has been implemented since the deal took effect Jan. 1, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. warned that prices above $60 will boost output, including from US shale drillers. Saudi Arabia has reduced oil production to less than 10 million barrels a day, below its targeted level, and will consider renewing its pledge to cut crude output in six months, Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said.

RASGAS DELIVERS IN FRANCE RasGas has delivered its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to the Dunkerque LNG regasification terminal, France.

T

he cargo, aboard RasGas’ LNG tanker ‘Murwab,’ was delivered to the EDF Group on January 23, following the successful commencement of commercial operations of the Dunkerque LNG regasification terminal on January 1, 2017. “RasGas is proud to commence delivery with this first LNG cargo under our SPA with EDF. This is another milestone for RasGas and the EDF Group, as well as for the relationship between Qatar and France for the safe, reliable and clean supply of LNG for France and Europe,” RasGas chief executive Hamad Mubarak Al Muhannadi said.

18 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

This will be the first commercial unloading of LNG carriers in the facility which has an annual regasification capacity of 13bn cubic metres and is owned and operated by Dunkerque LNG, a company 65%-owned by EDF, 25% by Fluxys and 10% by Total. “RasGas is a long-term partner of EDF Group and we are delighted to step up our relationship following the successful commencement of commercial operations of the Dunkerque LNG Terminal,” according to Marc Benayoun, EDF Group executive vice president with responsibility for Gas and Italy.

RUSSIA OVERTAKES SAUDI ARABIA RUSSIA OVERTOOK SAUDI ARABIA IN 2016 TO BECAME CHINA’S BIGGEST CRUDE OIL SUPPLIER FOR THE FIRST YEAR EVER, BOOSTED BY ROBUST DEMAND FROM INDEPENDENT CHINESE “TEAPOT” REFINERIES, CUSTOMS DATA SHOWED. RUSSIAN SHIPMENTS SURGED NEARLY A QUARTER OVER 2015 TO ABOUT 1.05 MILLION BARRELS PER DAY (BPD), THE DATA SHOWED, WITH SAUDI ARABIA COMING IN A CLOSE SECOND WITH 1.02 MILLION BPD, UP 0.9 PERCENT IN 2016 VERSUS THE PREVIOUS YEAR. CHINA IS THE WORLD’S SECOND-LARGEST OIL BUYER AND THE FASTEST-GROWING MAJOR IMPORTER.


business > bank notes DIVIDEND DISTRIBUTION Commercial Bank has been awarded an exclusive mandate to distribute dividends for Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Company to their shareholders. This award contract will be for a period of five years commencing in 2017. Commercial Bank has been providing dividend distribution services to MPHC since the company went public in 2014.

REGIONAL DEBT ISSUANCE REACHES $77.8 BILLION Thomson Reuters’ annual report on investment banking in the Middle East revealed some interesting trends in the sector.  Bolstered by Saudi Arabia’s $17.2 billion bond

sale in October, Middle Eastern debt issuance reached $77.8 billion during 2016, a 145% increase compared to the value raised during 2015 and by far the highest annual total in the region since records began in 1980. Saudi Arabia was the most active nation in the Middle East debt market, accounting for 29% of overall activity, followed by United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

 International Islamic debt issuance increased

24% year-on-year to reach $37.9 billion during 2016. HSBC took the top spot in the MiddleEastern bond ranking during 2016 with 13.3% share of the market, while CIMB Group took the top spot for Islamic DCM issuance with a 13.5% share.

 Middle-Eastern investment banking fees

reached $820.8 million during 2016, an 18% increase compared to fees recorded during 2015 and the highest annual fee total in the region since 2008.

 The value of announced M&A transactions

with any Middle-Eastern involvement reached $46.9 billion during 2016, 16% less than the value recorded during 2015 and the lowest annual total in the region since 2013. The $14.1 billion merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank was the largest deal to be announced in the region during 2016, and it is the largest domestic Middle-Eastern deal of all time. Overseas acquisitions by Qatar accounted for 33% of Middle-Eastern outbound M&A activity, while acquisitions by companies based in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates accounted for 28% and 20%, respectively. Inbound M&A fell 30% to $4 billion.

 Middle-Eastern equity and equity-related

issuance totalled $2.6 billion during 2016, a 55% decline year-on-year and the lowest annual issuance total in the region since 2004.

QNB RAISING MORE LOANS Qatar National Bank is raising a $1 billion, three-year syndicated loan in the Asian bank market, according to Reuters.

T

he lender approached banks for the new loan financing in mid-December, asking them to commit sizeable tickets ranging between $100 million and $300 million, Reuters said, quoting a source. Agricultural Bank of China (of which Qatar Investment Authority is a cornerstone investor) has a leading role in the new loan, the sources said. QNB is not new to the international loan market and has previously raised large debt facilities in both US dollars and euros, on the basis of its strong financial performance. For the twelve months ended December 31, 2016, QNB’s net profit reached QR12.4 billion ($3.4 billion), up by 10% from last year. Total assets reached QR720 billion ($198 billion), up by 34% from December 2015, the best absolute results in QNB Group’s history. The growth in assets was driven by loans and advances which grew by 34% to reach QR520 billion ($143 billion). At the same time QNB Group increased its customer funding by 28% to QR507 billion ($139 billion). This led to the Group’s loans to deposit ratio reaching 103%. The Group was also able to maintain the ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.8%.

MOROCCO-BOUND QATAR INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC BANK (QIIB) ANNOUNCED IN A STATEMENT THAT IT HAD RECEIVED APPROVAL FROM MOROCCO’S BANK AL MAGHRIB TO START OPERATING IN THE COUNTRY. THE FUTURE BANK WILL BE A JOINT VENTURE BETWEEN QIIB AND MOROCCO’S CIH BANK (CRÈDIT IMMOBILIER ET HÔTELIER). THE STATEMENT ALSO REVEALED THAT QIIB IS CURRENTLY WORKING WITH CIH BANK “TO SATISFY THE RELEVANT REQUIREMENTS AND REGULATORY APPROVAL OF AUTHORITIES” BOTH IN QATAR AND MOROCCO.

19 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > arab snippets

20 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


THE LINE OF DIVISION A train travels through Aleppo's devastated eastern districts for the first time in more than four years, on January 25. It is the train's first such trip since rebels overran east Aleppo in the summer of 2012, effectively dividing the northern city into a regime-held west and a rebel-controlled east. George OURFALIAN / AFP

21 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


development > viewpoint

QATAR:

YEAR IN REVIEW

Stability and consolidation were Qatar’s watchwords in 2016, as the government continued to make long-term investments in national infrastructure at a time of restricted economic growth in the region. 22 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

I

n its “2016 World Economic Outlook,” the IMF forecast that Qatar’s GDP growth for the year would come in at 2.6%, down from 3.7% in 2015, as high state spending continued in a wider context of lower energy prices. Looking ahead, however, the government’s strong policy direction and leadership look set to pay dividends, with the IMF anticipating real GDP expansion of 3.4% in 2017, the highest rate in the GCC. Significant public spending will continue in 2017, as the government seeks to ensure a number of major infrastructure projects are completed on time. The 2017 budget, announced in December by the Ministry of Finance, allocates QR93.2 billion ($25.6

billion) for major projects, maintaining spending in key areas such as health, education and transport. According to the minister of finance, Ali Shareef Al Emadi, this would include QR46.1 billion ($12.7 billion) on new projects to be signed in the coming year, split between infrastructure and transportation programmes worth QR25 billion ($6.9 billion), projects related to FIFA World Cup 2022 facilities valued at QR8.5 billion ($2.3 billion), health and education schemes of QR5.8 billion ($1.6 billion), as well as QR6.8 billion ($1.9 billion) of projects in other sectors. “An increase in the pace of construction activities on various projects will lead to higher allocation for major projects during


the coming three fiscal years,” Al Emadi told local media in mid-December. Total government spending is budgeted to reach QR198.4 billion ($55.5 billion) for 2017. This investment strategy is supporting an increasingly diversified economy, with non-oil growth figures reaching 7.8% in 2015 and 5.8% in the first half of 2016, well above the country’s overall GDP growth recorded for the year. Maintaining spending, however, will result in a budget deficit of QR28.3 billion ($7.8 billion), down 39.1% on the budgeted deficit for 2016. Given Qatar’s recent history of high oil revenues, this would be the country’s second budget deficit in 15 years. Greater worker protection Ongoing state initiatives include easing regulations for Qatar’s largely migrant workforce, something that has become a point of contention in recent years. In midDecember, the government announced that it had lifted the controversial kafala (sponsorship) labour legislation. Under the kafala system, migrant labourers were allowed to leave Qatar only with permission from their employers, and workers who left a job at the end of the contract were required to wait at least two years before returning to the country for employment by another company. Kafala has now been replaced by a new system, which the minister of labour, Essa bin Saad Al Naimi, called “a modernised, contract-based system that safeguards workers’ rights and increases job security.” As a result, foreign workers in the country no longer need sponsorship to change jobs or leave the country. Employers who confiscate passports, blocking the rights

of employees from leaving the country, will be fined QR25,000 ($6,800), up from QR10,000 ($2,700) under the previous system. The new law also provides a grievance committee for cases in which sponsors refuse to grant exit visas. Strong year for Islamic banking Qatar’s financial services sector performed strongly in 2016, with Islamic banking in particular recording high growth. Shariacompliant banking grew by 7.2% in the first half of 2016 while the conventional side of the sector increased by 6.5%, with ratings agency Fitch attributing the growth figures to higher retail and real estate financing. Among the industry’s strongest performers was local sharia-compliant investment bank Qinvest, which in November announced a revenue increase of 18% yearon-year in the first nine months of 2016. However, Fitch expects full-year figures for 2016 to show Islamic banking growth slowing in the second half of 2016, citing reduced hydrocarbon reserves and high government spending. Elsewhere in banking, following the US Federal Reserve’s December announcement that it was raising its federal funds rate’s target range to 0.50.75%, the Central Bank of Qatar (QCB) increased interest rates by 0.25%. This means that the overnight lending rate was raised from 4.5% to 4.75% and the deposit rate went from 0.75% to 1%, as of the middle of December. The Fed’s rate hike and QCB following suit were both expected. In a recent report, Fitch Group research agency BMI had forecast that Qatar’s 2017 growth meant it would be in a position to withstand the effects of the hike

BY OLIVER CORNOCK Managing Editor, Middle East Oxford Business Group

This Qatar economic update was produced by Oxford Business Group

23 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


development > viewpoint

UNREADY UK

The start of 2017 is peppered with political risks including the German presidential election and a general election in the Netherlands. But it is the UK which presents us with the biggest threat of all – Brexit. 24 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

T

he UK’s triggering of Article 50 by the end of March will be the riskiest political event of the first quarter because of the economic weight of the UK and the euro area, whose share of global GDP in USD is 3.9% and 15.7%, respectively. Until now, the most visible effect of Brexit has been sterling’s depreciation (the other factor explaining the depreciation is the UK’s large current account deficit which is close to 7% of GDP). GBP has decreased by almost 17% versus the dollar and 9.3% against the euro since June 23. The downward trend occurred in two stages, first in the wake of the referendum, and then following Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the

Conservative Party Congress on September 30 where she clearly favoured the option of a hard Brexit. The UK’s three main economic challenges Theresa May raises many hopes but it is way too early to judge her policies since she has not delivered anything yet. Opting for a hard Brexit means that the UK would need to completely change the structure of its economy by 2019 (the effective date of exit from the EU), which is obviously a very short time frame. The British economy is heading for the most challenging period it has known since WWII. There are mostly three immediate economic issues that will appear in 2017:


Surge in inflation. The lower GBP exchange rate, which is certainly here to stay, leads to higher inflation through imports (forecast of 2.4% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018) hurting households’ purchasing power. The rise in inflation is also accentuated by higher global commodity prices (+4.70% in November 2016 compared to November 2015). Until now, wage growth has been sufficiently high (+2.3% according to the latest data) to partly offset higher inflation but this should not be the case in 2017 if inflation forecasts are confirmed. In the medium term, however, lower GBP is likely to favour the substitution of imported goods by locally produced goods, whenever it is possible. Nonetheless, the gain in terms of purchasing power will not be that substantial. Worries over wages. In a normal economic period, full employment is expected to lead to higher wages but this may not be the case as UK firms may be encouraged to postpone hiring due to the uncertain economic conditions. The triggering of Article 50 will probably have a significant psychological effect on British firms and will result in a hiring freeze. Some observers point to the resilience of the labour market as proof that Brexit has no real consequences. However, they forget that events usually take at least six months to impact the labour market, even when it is very flexible, like in the UK. Competitiveness at stake. In theory, the depreciation of sterling should help the British economy in this period of uncertainty but the real gain remains limited because the price elasticity of exports is low. Indeed, a study conducted by the Office for Budget Responsibility concludes that a 1% decrease in relative price only results in a 0.41% increase in exports (excluding petroleum products) after nine quarters. By comparison, a similar decline leads to a 0.8% increase in exports for France. Therefore, it can be concluded that the expected gain in price competitiveness for British firms due to the fall of GBP will not be as decisive as has often been claimed. Lower corporate tax may constitute an incentive for UK firms to invest in the short term but, in the medium term, the UK will need to implement an ambitious reindustrialisation plan if it fails to reach a favourable association agreement with the EU. This plan would mean uncontrolled deficit spending which would increase the debt burden in a context of tensions in bond markets (the UK 10-year

sovereign bond yield has been multiplied by 2.3 since its annual lowest point) and certainly a fresh credit rating downgrade for the country. CEE is the UK’s best ally During the negotiations with the EU, the UK will certainly face the intransigence of many countries, notably France, although the current government may have less influence at the European level because of the upcoming presidential election in April. At first glance, the balance of power is more favourable to the EU than to the UK, as European exports to the UK account for only 3% of EU GDP, while British exports to the EU represent around 13% of the UK GDP. However, Theresa May will be able to count on the support of central and east European (CEE) countries. They face two crucial issues this quarter. The first one concerns a stronger USD which is not, from our point of view, a major financial risk for the region. Indeed, total US dollar-denominated debt as a share of GDP is quite low in CEE. The most exposed CEE countries are Poland and the Czech Republic where it reaches roughly 10% of GDP, which is manageable, compared with Chile (over 35% of GDP) and Turkey (around 25% of GDP). The second issue relates to the potential economic impact of Brexit in CEE. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are among the most important recipients of UK investments in the region and could, therefore, be the most penalised in the event of a hard Brexit. In the short term the decision to leave the EU has not substantially affected investment flows. However, in the medium term there is real uncertainty about the continued presence of British companies in the region (more than 300 UK firms are operating in the Czech Republic which serves as a hub to penetrate neighbouring countries). This economic dependence represents a key advantage for the UK government, which could bargain the support of CEE countries during the negotiation process (regarding passporting rights for instance) in exchange for maintaining UK investments. On one hand, British diplomacy has not negotiated any major trade agreement since 1973 and no longer has the teams to do so. On the other hand, it knows how to divide and rule, which suggests that the UK could, at the end of the day, do better than expected by obtaining substantial concessions from allied European countries if Brexit occurs, which is far from certain

BY CHRISTOPHER DEMBIK Head of Macro Analysis Saxo Bank

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Christopher Dembik has been the Head of Macro Analysis at Saxo Bank since 2016 and focuses on delivering analysis of monetary policies and macroeconomic developments globally as defined by fundamentals, market sentiment and technical analysis.

25 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


investment > viewpoint

INVESTING IN RELATIONSHIPS

Wealth and investment management needs to be built on a comprehensive understanding of the clients’ objectives and financial personality.

26 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

T

he Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a key strategic market for Barclays. With strong linkages with the UK, Barclays, a trusted and recognised partner for clients in the region, offers its full range of financial services, including investment and corporate banking services, in addition to the wealth and investment management proposition and the recently launched international banking offering. Barclays’ strength in the wealth and investment management space is due to its Open Architecture Trading Platforms, which provide a variety of investment and credit options and wealth advisory services that are tailored to the needs of each and

every client. This is in addition to the unique Integrated Banking Model, which offers clients the opportunity to access Barclays’ regional and global capabilities in Corporate and Investment Banking. Clients rely on Barclays for our expertise in international markets as we assist them in diversifying and preserving their wealth while providing them with tailored investment solutions that match their investment profiles. We do this by carefully assessing each client’s individual needs and objectives and creating portfolios that have a suitable asset allocation that reflectsthe client’s risk appetite. We ensure that the advice we provide specifically caters to each individual’s needs to ensure their wealth is


preserved and their legacy continues from generation to generation. The foundation for a successful, longterm, and tailored Wealth Management strategy in Barclays is primarily driven by three factors. First and foremost, any strategy must be tailored to the client’s objectives and financial personality, in order to optimise asset allocation in their portfolio. Secondly, each individual investment within a portfolio goes through a rigorous research process by our team of global investment analysts, to ensure their quality and potential as suitable investments. Lastly, once the portfolio is created, it is regularly monitored and rebalanced by our team of investment specialists, ensuring the portfolio is adjusted for various economic environments, and remains in line with the client’s objectives and in-house market research insights. The importance of listening to clients is something that may seem relatively obvious, but it may be neglected in the region. In our business, we take the time to listen and understand what is most important to our clients in terms of their objectives, requirements and preferences and prioritise them. Taking the time to listen and identify a client’s goals and ambitions is the main driver for building long, trusted relationships with clients. Our goal is to preserve and enhance client wealth from generation to generation, which is inherently long term. This incorporates the implementation of short and medium term investment strategies as tactical opportunities present themselves in various economic climates. Given the level of upcoming uncertainty within the global economic environment, from the impact of Brexit on Europe and the UK, to the US Elections, we are recommending that clients position their portfolios in a defensive manner. The potential interest rate hike in the US is likely to present opportunities within the US financials

space, while negatively affecting the fixed income market in the short term. We have not seen a direct correlation between investor appetite and oil prices. Investors have adjusted their investment strategies to adapt to the new environment. Although there is a clear trickledown effect that is caused by the effect of lower oil prices, generally we have seen investors remain strong and reinvest in their companies. However, it further highlighted to our clients in the region the importance of diversifying their wealth across geographies, asset classes and sectors and the importance of having a trusted financial advisor who can provide advice and expertise. It is also worth mentioning that a large number of investors within the region have gathered the majority of their wealth from the real estate and trading sectors as opposed to direct oil-related activities. Nor has the decline in oil prices directly impacted the profitability of the wealth and investment management businesses in the region. While banking, like other industries, was affected by the decline in oil prices, the resilience demonstrated by the region’s banks during these volatile times is promising since they were able to maintain a solid capital. They were able to achieve this by focusing their operations and restructuring their business model to suit the needs of the local market, which allowed the banks in the region to remain strong during this time. We see a large amount of wealth being managed by the younger generation, as the patriarchs of the families begin slowly passing down their wealth and control. At Barclays, we have been working with families to help educate the next generation on financial matters to ensure the smooth transition. We recognise the importance of coaching and supporting young leaders to ensure they are prepared and ready to take on their family wealth and all the responsibilities that come with it

IHAB AL DERZI Market Head of Qatar and Saudi Arabia Barclays Wealth and Investment Management

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ihab Al Derzi joined Barclays Wealth & Investment Management in 2014 and brings with him 14 years of expertise from the UK Private Banking industry. Barclays is a major global financial service provider with over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, providing its clients with international Wealth and Investment Management services across more than 40 countries. Barclays also offers personal banking, cards and corporate and investment banking services.

27 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


education > listening post

28 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


A RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS

THE FUTURE

EDUCATOR AND MEDIA PROFESSIONAL EVERETTE DENNIS IS A MAN WITH A MISSION TO BUILD A STRONG RESEARCH-ENHANCED MEDIA INDUSTRY THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF LEADERS, POLICIES AND FORCES THAT OPPOSE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION GLOBALLY. BY SINDHU NAIR

29 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


education > listening post

T

he Dean and CEO of Northwestern UniversityQatar (NU-Q) campus, Everette Dennis has been at work expanding the research ambit of the university for the last six years. Under his tenure, NU-Q has published a study about media use in the Middle East aimed at understanding how people in the Arab world use and judge the media they consume, and conducted the biannual Qatar Media Industries Forum (QMIF) that brought together top representatives in publishing, and advertising in a discussion to assess the present and future of Qatar’s media landscape. While he has been at the helm of both education and media in New York, Dean Dennis feels that his contribution from Qatar is equally stimulating. “I moved here from New York where I worked in media and in education, often building a bridge between the two, so NU-Q fits my interests and aspirations like a glove,” he tells Qatar Today. “As I tell our students, a career in and around the media industries gives you access to everyone from world leaders to ordinary people, and that has been my experience. Being in Qatar and building a new institution with the help of many others opens new doors. In my time here I have been in the Oval Office, at 10 Downing Street, and in other corridors of power where I’ve met with leaders of media industries, education, and other institutions. I find, however, that the best

way to stay connected with the realities of the world is through interaction with our amazing students, faculty, and staff as well as the people of Qatar,” he says. Dean Dennis seems to be particularly optimistic about the country’s willingness to embrace change, a stance that might not be shared unanimously in the media circles, especially after Doha News, one of the most active online news sites in the country, was blocked, raising a protest from the media community and some like human rights watchdog Amnesty International labelling this move as an “alarming setback for freedom of expression in the country”. But Dean Dennis believes that “in Qatar there is a sense of destiny about building a globally significant country and media sector, a willingness to embrace change, openness to talent from almost anywhere, and the wherewithal to make things happen.” Now moving into a brand new building designed by American architect Antoine Predock, NU-Q stands at a threshold that promises hope. “To our students, the building says, 'Think big, dream, and create.' It offers opportunities to both increase our programming and enhance the quality of our undergraduate programme while planning for executive and graduate education. Of special interest is a newsroom that was designed by the Beirut architect, Ali Wazani, which will be among the most advanced in the Middle East and beyond; and a new museum, the Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar, the

The new NU-Q building designed by Antoine Predock

country’s first university museum. Taken together, our building will be one of the largest and most advanced communication schools in the world,” he says. In a detailed Q and A, Dean Dennis answers some of the issues that the media industry faces in the region and around the globe. In this age of dismal fascist leaders it is heartening to find a fervent educator who believes that change is imminent and for the better. And his inspiration is from the words of George Bernard Shaw, the great Irish playwright, who said, “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” “In partnership with the Qatar Foundation, NU-Q is honoured to help contribute to this country’s future. And as we moved into our new building I was reminded of Winston Churchill’s remarks on the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, that: [First] “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” In your six years as a Dean with NU-Q what changes have you seen in the media scene and how do you evaluate them? Overall the media scene worldwide is in a state of great change and disruption, which is creating exciting new enterprises while sun-setting some traditional media that now have diminished influence, though some have been strengthened too. There is a net gain for people communicating with each other with or without the help of media thanks to the digital revolution. At the same time, there is a worrying trend for independent journalism and truth-telling as so many governments have taken on the press with draconian policies and practices, both in the West and across much of the globe. This is a challenge for all – to cope with change and navigate complexity since freedom of expression is always in play everywhere and needs constant attention. How would you describe the journalism scene in Doha? First and foremost, great growth at Al Jazeera, in publishing, digital media, the Doha Film Institute as well as a strengthened PR and advertising presence. Social media has also revolutionised communication in Qatar and in the region, as well as globally. Due to social media, the rapid advancement of media both in journalism and in film has been dramatic, which is increasingly making Doha a media city.

30 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


What kinds of institutions do you see your students working in? Our students and alumni work in a wide variety of media organizations, including strategic communication firms, government, and non-governmental organizations. In addition to Al Jazeera, our students and alumni who work in journalism are also employed at Qatar Media Corporation, Qatar TV, various magazines, beIN Sports, Associated Press, Al Arabiya, and others. Some of our students have a passion for news and public affairs and seek jobs in journalism, while others are more interested in working as professional communicators for businesses, health care organisations, research institutes, sports media and marketing, museums, and other entities. It is worth noting that some 30% of our first four graduating classes went to graduate school at leading universities around the world including Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, Northwestern (Evanston), Cornell, and the London School of Economics, among others. And all doors seem open to them as some have done advanced study in media and film, while others have studied law, business, education, and such fields as Middle East studies. What are the main factors that deter the growth of an open, honest and free media? The legal regimes governing media must be favourable to free expression and governments must be transparent. This is always a struggle anywhere in the world. I think most would agree that policies imposed through government, cultural norms, or corporate entities that restrict a person’s ability to communicate freely will deter a certain element of growth in any industry. That said, there are always challenges to meet as our alumni, students, and faculty find ways to capture the essence of the world they meet through journalistic reports, documentaries, photos, and strategic communication with gusto and purpose. Increasingly, they are being recognised for the quality and excellence of their work here, in the region, and globally. What are the learnings from the annual research that has been facilitated by NU-Q and would greatly help in the media sector if rightly put to use? What I find most interesting in these studies is how the Middle East, in certain

Designed by Ali Wazani, the newsroom is the most advanced in the region.

areas, is more advanced in using certain platforms than other parts of the world. The research we conduct is not to help the media sector so much as it is for others to understand how people in the Middle East use media. Our studies continue to suggest that increased access to content from around the world has not necessarily led to the abandonment of media from one’s own nation or region. In fact, contrary to the notion of a zero-sum trade-off between traditional and global culture, we see some evidence of increased use of media specific to one’s own identity alongside the expanding availability of international content. That is good news for everyone. While there are factors like censorship and privacy that hinder many journalistic ventures, what do you think are the positives of working in this sector in the Middle East? The right to communicate can be impeded or helped by law and regulations, but change comes slowly and incrementally. It must be guided and led by local people and wise leaders. In Qatar and the Gulf, new talent represented by our students and those at other schools, as well as young professionals in media firms are leading the way. Naturally, one has to be respectful of local customs and traditions as well as the law. People often overlook the great impact of digital and social media in the Middle East, which is being felt everywhere. To some extent, good decisions across the culture, aided by technology, are advancing freedom of expression in remarkable ways. Qatar is blessed with amazing young people eager and ready to learn more about the

region and the world, and then tell stories to the rest of the world about this country and region. Through documentaries, our faculty, students, and alumni are educating people globally on the strengths and challenges facing Qatar. In a similar way, many of our alumni and students tell these stories as journalists and many promote the good work in the private and government sectors as professional strategic communicators. How does NU-Q compare to what is being taught and implemented at the main campus? The education provided in Qatar is fundamentally the same as it is in Evanston, which we call the “home campus” and of which we are an integral part. Students here get the exact same degree as well. What is different is the way we connect our instruction and research to the local culture and region to be relevant here. We have a lower student-teacher ratio here, and thus students get more personal attention. We also have what is arguably the best faculty in the world, the most modern equipment, and more. Our faculty is world-class and has a special interest in and awareness of the country and region. Many speak Arabic and other languages as well. Our student body is very diverse with representation from more than 30 countries. One of the distinct advantages our students do have is the opportunity to study in Evanston, receive research grants from the Evanston campus, and participate in other studentrelated travel opportunities offered to Northwestern’s undergraduates 31 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > world view

32 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


PINK POWER Demonstrators walk down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington January 21 in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of protesters spearheaded by women's rights groups demonstrated across the US to send a defiant message to US President Donald Trump. ZACH GIBSON / AFP 33 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STORY

34 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


The forgotten frontier WHILE CARBON CAPTURE, STORAGE AND UTILISATION IS NOT EXACTLY NEW SCIENCE, IT’S STILL VERY MUCH ON THE PERIPHERY OF OUR GREEN CONSCIOUSNESS. WILL THE AMBITIOUS PARIS AGREEMENT TARGETS REVIVE EFFORTS TO SCALE UP THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY? BY AYSWARYA MURTHY 35 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STORY

The forgotten frontier

A high-level ministerial panel with the energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, the US, the UAE, Canada and Australia at the GCC pavilion in COP22, Marrakech

If

you aren’t an oil & gas professional or particularly clued in to the climate debate, you might be forgiven for not remembering all the energy around Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) research in Qatar a few short years ago. Big investments, prestigious collaborations, industry tie-ins – you name it, we had it. And we weren’t too shy to talk about it either. But over the last couple of years, what with all the belt-tightening and restructuring, some of these “extracurricular activities” have been silently placed on the back burner, none the wiser for it. However, something else has been happening over the last couple of years as well – the Paris Agreement and the unprecedented commitment to climate action. And all things considered, it’s time not only to put CCUS back on the agenda, but to push it near the top of the list. CCUS is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the process of

36 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

capturing carbon dioxide (CO₂) from power plants and industrial process emissions and putting them to use in other applications that require CO₂, for example in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) which requires 70 MtCO₂ annually; two-thirds of this currently come from natural CO₂ sources and can be replaced with captured carbon. EOR is the practice of injecting CO₂ in oil fields to enhance hydrocarbon production (especially into mature oil fields in order to extract otherwise inaccessible oil) while storing the injected CO₂ permanently underground. Dedicated underground storage (without utilisation) is the other option, but admittedly a less popular choice. Despite the first large-scale CCS plant coming online way back in 1972, there are only 15 in operation globally today (not counting the In Salah CO₂ Storage Project in Algeria which was shut down in 2011); most of them came online after 2013 and another six are scheduled to open by the end of 2017 (all but six of the whole portfolio of projects


will primarily feed into EOR). This is real albeit belated progress in the face of serious roadblocks like massive capital costs, limited policy and regulatory support and nil-to-negative public perception of the technology. These 21 plants together will be capturing 40 MtCO₂ annually from this year; by 2050 we’ll need to capture one hundred times that every year. If not, we’ll have to invest at least an additional $3.5 trillion in power generation in order keep global temperatures within relatively safe limits. But there are concerns that this momentum is stalling. The lack of adequate support coupled with first-of-a-kind technology challenges have contributed to the cancellation of 22 advanced large-scale CCS projects since 2010. Additionally, the recent commodity market downturn has significantly reduced the interest and capacity of oil, gas and coal companies to invest in CCS. No investment decisions on large-scale projects have been taken since 2014 and few new projects are being brought forward. And although more than $30 billion in funding was announced for large-scale CCS projects between 2007 and 2010, only $2.8 billion in public funds was actually invested between 2009 and 2014. At COP22 in November last year, where there was a noticeable shift in talks from negotiation to implementation, CCS was discussed at the highest levels. At the GCC pavilion at a high-level ministerial panel, the energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, the US, the UAE, Canada and Australia got together to speak about the uptake of CCS in their respective countries and the future of large-scale implementation of the technology. The Middle East’s only large-scale CCS plants are in Saudia Arabia and the UAE and all of the six upcoming plants are in the US, Canada and Australia. It was somewhat ironic that minister after minister, from US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khaled Al Falih, stressed the importance of CCS while in the same breath insisting that additional policy

support was need to get it off the ground. Paul Simons, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who spoke at the beginning of the panel, said that CCS was not optional for Paris Agreement targets. In the midst of the unprecedented energy transformation challenge that the world was facing, he compared CCS to a sleeping giant that could deliver essential emission reductions both in the power sector and

THE IEA'S 2°C SCENARIO CALLS FOR MORE THAN HALF OF CCS DEPLOYMENT TO BE IN POWER GENERATION AND OF THIS ALMOST 75% SHOULD OCCUR OUTSIDE OF THE OECD.

industry. But to realise this, many efforts needed to come together. “Political commitment and financial support should be made clear thorough policies, subsidies and incentives,” he said. It’s in the numbers It is known that even if the targets in the individual Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) of all the countries are met, average global temperatures will rise to about 3-3.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures; much higher than the relatively safer 1.5 C rise that the Paris Agreement is aiming for. The IEA projects a major contribution by CCS (15% to 20%) within the portfolio of climate change mitigating tools in the 2°C scenario by the year 2060. This scenario calls for more than half of CCS

CCUS REGULATORY GAPS IN GCC COUNTRIES (X: INADEQUACY; -: MINOR INADEQUACY)

REGULATORY DOMAIN

BAHRAIN

KUWAIT

OMAN

QATAR

KSA

UAE

X

X

X

X

X

X

Ownership of surface facility

-

X

X

X

-

Transboundary movement of CO2

X X X X X X

CO2 Classification

Environmental impact assessment CO2 impurity

X

X

CO2 capture regulation

-

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

-

CO2 transportation regulation

-

X

X

X

-

CO2 storage regulation

X

X

X

X

X

X

Liability during the post-closure period

X

X

X

X

X

X

Regulation for CCS with EOR

X

X

X

X

X

X

Incentives

- - X - - -

NOTE: CO2 storage regulation include regulating site selection and characterization activities; project inspections; monitoring, reporting, and verification requirements; Corrective measures and remediation measures; authorization for storage site closure; liability during the project period; Financial contributions to post-closure stewardship.

(Source: UN working paper on ‘Strengthening the legal and regulatory framework in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to promote the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage’, by Dr I-Tsung Tsai, 2014)

37 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STORY

The forgotten frontier

“IN THIS FIRST ROUND, MOST NDCS TALK ABOUT DEPLOYING EXISTING, LOW-COST TECHNOLOGIES; ALL THE LOW-HANGING FRUIT, AS THEY SAY. IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH.” BRAD PAGE Chief Executive Officer Global CCS Institute

deployment in power generation and of this almost 75% should occur outside of the OECD. In Energy Technology Perspectives 2010, it was noted that CCS will need to contribute to 20% of total emission reductions by 2050 for GHG to be reduced in the most cost-efficient manner. To enable CCS to meet this one-fifth contribution, it will be necessary to deploy around 100 CCS projects by 2020, and over 3,000 projects by 2050. This goes to show how essential CCS is to the low carbon energy transition strategy. It’s difficult to achieve 2C without CCS; impossible to go below 2C without it. And as the pressure mounts on countries to ratchet up their climate goals in the NDCs, this will become more obvious. “In this first round, most NDCs talk about deploying existing, low-cost tech; all the low-hanging fruit, as they say. It’s never going to be enough,” says Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute. “We absolutely need to deploy all technologies that are at our disposal. CCS is necessary technology and yet, while in excess of a trillion dollars worth of investment has be committed towards renewables since 2006, only a fraction of that has been allocated towards CCS. It’s not a competition but there needs to be policy parity to ensure CCS alongside renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives can help us reach Paris Agreement targets.” In other words, CCS needs to be allowed to compete on a comparable basis with other clean technology solutions. Contrary to popular belief, renewable energy is not the only weapon we’ll ever need in our fight against climate change. Some industries like steel and fertilisers are impossible to decarbonise without CCS, because the CO₂ emissions are not related to energy use but rather to processes. So for a vast majority of the industrial sector, which accounts for a quarter of the global CO₂ emissions, CCS is the only solution. There is a school of thought that also considers CCS a better alternative when the economic cost of decarbonisation is too high, like relatively young and high-output coal plants that will have

PRIVATE AND PUBLIC INVESTMENT IN LARGE-SCALE CCS PROJECTS (2005-2014) 5000 4500 4000

$ MILLION

3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Before 2005

2005

2006

2007

2008

Private Investment in large-scale projects Source: BNEF (2016), Clean Energy Investment Trends

38 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Public Investment in large-scale projects

2014


The New Player In Town THE LATEST LARGE-SCALE CCS PLANT TO COME ONLINE IS IN THE NEIGHBOURING EMIRATE OF ABU DHABI, WHERE THE CARBON DIOXIDE CAPTURED FROM STEEL MANUFACTURING PROCESS IS BEING UTILISED FOR ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY.

A

joint venture by Masdar and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Al Reyadah is the region’s first dedicated CCS company focused on commercialisation. When its CCS plant officially went online in November last year at the Emirates Steel Industries, it became the first large-scale project to capture CO₂ from a steel manufacturing plant. Speaking to Qatar Today, the CEO of Al Reyadah, Arafat Al Yafei, says the plant will capture 800,000 tonnes of CO₂ annually, which will be used for EOR at the Rumaitha oil fields, helping ADNOC save on the natural gas that is traditionally used for this purpose. “There are different solutions being proposed to limit temperature rise to below 2°C, with CCS and energy efficiency being on top of the list and expected to play a very important role to achieve this,” Al Yafei says. Al  Reyadah  company represents a perfect example of a  practical initiative for a sustainable CCS solution for climate change. “Under ADNOC and Masdar, Al Reyadah Company is going to play a crucial role to establish CCS solutions on business terms and promote developments for CCS industry, which will eventually support larger CCS implementations on the global scale.” Al Yafei believes that the CCS business is a real need have due to the fact that the region’s huge oil and gas fields are increasingly seeing more of EOR development schemes, where CO₂ utilisation will become a key component. There are a number of future opportunities that they will be looking at. “As it is a new business, we work seriously with out partners to evaluate the opportunities and conduct the required due diligence from multiple aspects. Meanwhile, we are proceeding in building the capabilities towards creating a CCS industry in the region that considers new technologies, business aspects and worlds challenges. Time is important to ensure that these projects are done correctly in order to meet the business objectives in the local and regional markets,” he says. “Right now a utilisation strategy linked with oil companies and EOR is the most viable way to implement large scale CCS in our region,” Al Yafei says. “Our aim here at Al Reyadah is to prepare the platform, set an example, and build expertise in the business. We initially want to show governments and industries that CCS is technically and commercially viable. Eventually this will be expanded to other kinds of utilisation, be it in beverage industries or food preservation or medical uses. If we can demonstrate a revenue stream, there will

ARAFAT AL YAFEI, CEO, Al Reyadah

The Al Reyadah CCS plant at Emirates Steel Industries

be an uptake in the CCS business. Just subsidies will not be enough to make this concept sustainable as we have seen in the past,” he says. For the time being, the new CCS plant is able to capture most of the steel plant’s CO₂ emissions, which is processed and transported to the oil fields for EOR. However, this volume is not even near the potential demand that is estimated for ADNOC CO₂ EOR plans.  Accordingly, Al Reyadah is working closely with ADNOC and its partners to ensure the next CCUS projects are aligned to ensure timely implementation. “The future captured CO₂ volumes will also be directed towards EOR as the requirement in this area is huge.” If done right, Al Reyadah can set a regional example of the elusive CCS business case that we have been looking for. “All parties involved in the Al Reyadah CCUS initiative are benefiting in one way or the other. ADNOC is able to obtain the CO₂ it needs while simultaneously supporting the global environmental initiatives.  Masdar on the other hand is the catalyst coming from a renewable/clean energy business, while Emirates Steel,  an intensive energy  utiliser, emitting a lot of carbon has become the first steel plant in the world to produce free carbon steel which has a marketing advantage [Green Steel],” Al Yafei points out. From where he sits, it’s a win-win situation all around.

39 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STORY

The forgotten frontier

“HIGH COST AND LACK OF GOOD BUSINESS MODELS REMAIN THE MAJOR CHALLENGES TO THE DEPLOYMENT OF CCS IN THE REGION AT THIS MOMENT.” DR I-TSUNG TSAI Assistant Professor Department of Engineering Systems and Management Masdar Institute

to be decommissioned. Sure, CCS is expensive now but the net cost of good policy is ultimately negative, Page says. “As we invest in it, it’s going to get better and cheaper.” “When you look at cost curves of available clean technologies, hydro, energy efficiency and onshore wind are already extremely cost-effective. The cost of solar PV is coming down quickly and CCS will follow soon after, trailed by other currently less advanced technology like concentrated solar PV. Obviously the cheapest ones will be adopted first but they won’t get you far enough. In the next 3-5 years, as more countries are called upon to increase targets and ambitions, they will be challenged as to what else they are going to deploy. That’s where CCS will come riding into play and that will also drive its costs down.” Winning the public debate It’s difficult to deny that CCS is yet to win the hearts and minds of the public as a viable green solution. This is partly because there is a significant gap in perception about how ready the technology is; many still consider it experimental 40 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

and not ready for commercialization. The financial feasibility of CCS is also often called into question. And it is argued that every dollar of public money that goes into funding or subsidizing CCS is one dollar lost to renewable energy projects. CCS is also viewed as an encouragement to bring more coal plants online and prolong fossil fuel use. Now, the 100% renewables future is definitely possible and it is surely coming. But no one can predict with any certainty when it will be there. All energy projections we have now show hydrocarbons as part of the energy mix for several decades to come and though their share will continually fall, it will not be as fast as we need it to be. “Fossil fuels are going to be with us for a long time to come,” Al Falih said during the panel discussion at COP22. “The move away from hydrocarbons will be a long journey that requires huge investments and a lot of technology and innovation. In the meantime, greenhouse gas emissions are at an unacceptable level and we have to find abatement measures. And one of the key tools in our toolbox is CCUS; we can’t make the transition without it.” This isn’t just the opinion of the energy minister of a major oil producer but stark facts. “To be honest, there is no reticence on the part of the power industry globally to move towards a 100% renewable future,” says Page. “Let’s be realistic about how fast we are going to get there. I don’t think it’s going to be in the next ten years. In 2040, we are still going to be dependent on fossil fuel for 70% of our power. It’s inconvenient but we have to deal with it.” To increase public awareness and discussion about CCS it’s important to provide clear and careful explanations of the issues at stake. Public acceptance and engagement are critical elements of any development project. The 15 projects currently in operation around the world have not encountered significant opposition and, in some instances, are celebrated by the communities in which they are located because time and effort were committed in engaging with local communities, especially those located close to storage sites. “We have a responsibility to actually educate people a whole lot better,” says Page. “The public also needs to see a strong, well-recognised regulatory framework around CCS, so we know that it is not ad hoc and has been well thought out.” The fact the CCS is seen as a “false solution” proposed by hydrocarbon companies and economies is also hurting its image among those fighting climate change. Only a few days before COP22, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative was announced. Under this programme, 10 oil majors including Saudi Aramco, British Petroleum and Statoil have committed to spend $1 billion over the next 10 years on reducing carbon emissions. A large portion of this investment will go towards CCS. For many, this confirms their worst suspicions. “For now CCS is considered an unstable strategy for climate change mitigation. Environmental NGOs think that CCS is a strategy for oil producing economies to sustain global consumption of fossil fuels,” says Dr I-Tsung Tsai, Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Management at Masdar Institute. “That argument is difficult to break. But


if fossil fuel use can be made sustainable, it can help people in very low-income countries develop. But ultimately these people have no bargaining power in the international arena to help lobby on behalf of these technologies,” he says. Show me the business case CCUS can be quite relevant to countries in the MENA region for three reasons – the vast oil and gas fields provide excellent CO₂ storage sites in the order of 60 Gt; carbon storage via EOR may contribute to oil reduction while reducing CO₂ emissions; and CO₂ for EOR substitutes gas for EOR and increases the output of gas as a valuable product. Despite this, regulation around CCS in the GCC is nonexistent. In any case most CCS-related activities are related to national oil companies which have never been explicitly regulated. However, the lack of regulation is not the key factor that blocks CCS deployment, says Dr Tsai. “Lack of regulation is a result of lack of good business models (so there is no incentive to introduce CCS legislation and regulation). In the GCC, cost and good business models remain the major challenge to the deployment of CCS in the region up to this moment.” Dr Tsai also points out that while the uilisation of captured carbon in oil recovery is enticing, the process is complicated, which might explain why oil companies

THE LACK OF ADEQUATE SUPPORT COUPLED WITH FIRST-OF-A-KIND TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE CANCELLATION OF 22 LARGESCALE CCS PROJECTS SINCE 2010.

in the region haven’t embraced it more enthusiastically. “Specifically, even though the technology for capturing CO₂ from specific industrial production processes is not regionspecific, optimal injection of CO₂ is highly reservoirspecific. As a result, local testing of CO₂ injection and storage is critical,” he says. “CO₂-EOR introduces further technical challenges: for example, how to incorporate CO₂EOR into existing EOR practice (e.g. water flooding, water alternating gas injection).” However, he maintains that the key challenge now for GCC countries is to get the economics right (minimizing the cost) so we can identify the feasible business models even without extra incentive (such as CCUS for Clean Development Mechanism). “We need to find a good revenue flow to convince a business that is already in operation. Retrofitting this new machinery may be difficult due to space and technology constraints; power generation

Update on CCS projects in the region In the GCC region, all countries have started the engagement in CCUS, with major activities found in the UAE, the KSA, and Qatar. The UAE government has identified CCS as a key component of national GHG mitigation plans in its national communications to the UNFCCC. As the major oil-producing emirate of the country, the Abu Dhabi government is developing, through Masdar, a CCS network bringing CO₂ from emitters to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In addition to the completion of a two-year CO₂-EOR pilot project in November 2011 at an onshore field, Masdar announced in early 2012 that it would proceed to tender for a CCS project with Emirates Steel Industries (ESI), handling 800,000 tons of carbon annually and connecting an ESI factory to an ADNOC oil field. Masdar also has a 60/40 joint venture with British Petroleum (BP) in developing Hydrogen Power Abu Dhabi (HPAD), a commercial-scale hydrogen-fuelled power plant incorporating carbon capture and storage. The project was placed on hold in January 2011 due to issues associated with negotiating prices for the CO₂ and electricity produced at the hydrogen plant with its two main customers: ADNOC and Abu Dhabi Water Electricity Authority (ADWEA). The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 also calls for consideration of CCS-equipped coal power in the next ten years, and the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has announced feasibility studies for a CCS-equipped coal plant. Saudi Arabia, as the leading oil-producing country in the world, can increase oil production without the use of EOR. When needed, Saudi Aramco uses highly optimized and cost-effective water flooding operations for EOR. Nevertheless, the country is developing the world’s largest CO₂ purification and liquefaction plant in Jubail. The plant will bring 1,500 metric tons per day of raw CO₂ coming from two ethylene glycol plants to three SABIC-affiliated companies for enhanced methanol and urea production. The country is in the process of developing several similar CCS projects, including some pilot projects on CO₂ for EOR. The Qatar Fuel Additives Company will install a CO₂ capture plant in its methanol production plant by 2014. Qatar Petroleum has a joint venture with Shell and some academic institutions in establishing the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC). Bahrain has a CCS project that captures flue gases from an existing petrochemical plant for urea and methanol production. In 2010, Kuwait launched a carbon project which will capture more than 150,000 tons of CO₂ annually from Equate, a large petrochemicals company, for food and beverage production. The current CCUS engagement of Oman is primarily focused on research and development of feasible CCUS technology. It can be noted that all current developments in the GCC region are initiated by the public sectors, with major effort focusing on feasibility validation of various stages of the CCUS value chain in the local context. Despite the clear interest for CCUS in this region, it is recognized that large-scale deployment of CCUS cannot be realized without the establishment of formal legislation and regulation. (Courtesy: UN working paper on ‘Strengthening the legal and regulatory framework in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to promote the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage’, by Dr I-Tsung Tsai, 2014)

41 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


COVER STORY

The forgotten frontier © OECD/IEA 2016

20 YEARS OF CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE Large-scale CCS projects in operation or under construction Project Name Country Operation Source of Date CO2

CO2 Capture Capacity (MTPA)

Primary Storage Type

OPERATING PROJECTS Val Verde Natural Gas Plans US 1972 Natural gas processing

1.3

EOR

Enid Fertilizer CO2-EOR US 1982 Fertiliser Project production

0.7

EOR

Shute Creek Gas Processing US 1986 Natural gas Facility processing

7.0

EOR

Sleipner CO2 Storage Project Norway 1996 Natural gas processing

0.9

Dedicated

Great Plains Synfuel Plant and

3.0

EOR

In Salah CO2 Storage Algeria 2004 Natural gas processing

1.0/0.0

Dedicated

Snøhvit CO2 Storage Project Norway 2008 Natural gas processing

0.7

Dedicated

Century Plant US 2010 Natural gas processing

8.4

EOR

Air Products Steam Methane US 2013 Reformer EOR Project

Hydrogen production

1.0

EOR

Coffeyville Gasification Plant US 2013 Fertiliser production

1.0

EOR

Lost Cabin Gas Plant US 2013 Natural gas processing

0.9

EOR

Petrobras Lula Oil Field CCS Brazil 2013 Natural gas processing

0.7

EOR

Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Canada 2014 and Storage Project

1.0

EOR

Canada

2000

Synthetic gas

Weyburn-Midale Project

Power generation

Quest Canada 2015 Hydrogen production

1.0

Uthmaniyah CO2 EOR Saudi Arabia 2015 Demonstration Project

Natural gas processing

0.8

EOR

Iron and Steel production

0.8

EOR

Chemical prodcution

1.0

Dedicated

Kemper County Energy Facility US 2016 Power generation

3.0

EOR

Petra Nova Carbon Capture US 2016 Power Project generation

1.4

EOR

Abu Dhabi CCS Project

United 2016 Arab Emirates

Dedicated

UNDER CONSTRUCTION Illinois Industrial Carbon US 2017 Capture and Storage Project

Source: Global CCS Institute, data current as of endAugust 2016. * Injection at the In Salah project has been suspended since 2011, when the project was capturing around 1.0 Mtpa.

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTIL) with Agrium CO2 Stream

2017

Oil refining

1.2-1.4

EOR

Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Australia 2017 Injection Project

Natural gas processing

3.4-4.0

Dedicated

42 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

Canada


QCCSRC'S WORK WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THE SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR QATAR TO IMPLEMENT A CARBON STORAGE SCHEME WITH CONFIDENCE.

is the major source of CO₂ emissions in the region. How are we going to find economic value for them?” asks Dr Tsai. This is probably why Qatar does not have large-scale CCS projects like KSA and UAE even though it has been one of the regional leaders in CCS research. “Qatar has initiated very large research programmes such as the Qatar Carbonate and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC). Qatar also established a Qatar CCS Multi-scale Imaging Laboratory in Imperial College London. As CO₂EOR is not as important to Qatar as it is to UAE and Oman, it is reasonable that the Qatari government takes a wait-andsee approach on CCUS, as there exists a life cycle loss from deploying inefficient technology rather than implementing a high-efficiency technology,” explains Dr Tsai. Qatar is prepared There is a high degree of confidence that global storage resources are more than adequate to accommodate future requirements, even under highly ambitious scenarios. For example, estimated geological storage resources in the United States is between 2,376 Gt and 21,000 Gt, around 1,500 Gt in China, and 78 Gt in the United Kingdom. To put this in context, the cumulative global storage requirements between now and 2050 in the 2C scenario are 94 Gt. However, further work is required to convert this theoretical storage capacity into “bankable”, practical storage facilities, where there is a high degree of confidence that desired amounts of CO₂ can be injected at desired rates. This is where the likes of QCCSRC come in. Funded by Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Science and Technology Park and Shell, the centre is headed by Dr Martin Blunt. The 10-year programme with an overall budget of $70 million was tasked with understanding CO₂ storage in a Qatari or Middle-Eastern context, i.e., the process of injecting CO₂ deep underground into carbonate rocks which are the most prevalent kind in Qatar. This involves the study of rock properties, how CO₂ can be trapped within the submillimetre gaps in porous rocks, storage in depleted oil and gas field, fluid-rock interactions, etc. While the research is based in Imperial College London, several Qatari PhD students are involved in looking at the underlying science of carbon storage. While not directly involved in demonstrative project or site identification in Qatar, Blunt says their work at the centre will be able to provide the scientific info necessary for someone in Qatar to implement a CO₂ storage scheme with confidence. Eight years in, the centre has been able to enormously

“THE CONSENSUS AMONG SCIENTISTS IS THAT OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROCESS IS OFFICIALLY EVOLVED TO A POINT WHERE IT CAN BE RAPIDLY IMPLEMENTED AT SCALE.” DR MARTIN BLUNT Director Qatar Carbon and Carbonate Storage Research Centre

advance the understanding of carbonate geology. Dr Blunt says “We are certainly at a stage where we can provide valuable information for a storage project.” Shutting down talk about CCS still being experimental, he says the barriers to global implementation are not scientific but are rather political, legal and financial barriers. “The consensus among scientists is that our understanding of the process is officially evolved to a point where it can be rapidly implemented at scale. There is no big technical problem that we can’t overcome. It only needs the political will, money and legal framework.” This is probably why Dr Blunt shares the frustration of the scientific community and industry experts who feel we are not applying CCS as rapidly as we could. “We want to be doing this now but the progress is agonizingly slow. We have to start having more demonstrative projects that involve the full cycle, from collecting CO₂ from power stations or industrial sites, piping it to storage sites and injecting it underground. We need to learn by doing; build up experience and expertise.” 43 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > bottomline

QATAR:

AN IDEAL PLACE FOR WORK

WHAT MAKES QATAR SUCH A GREAT PLACE FOR EMPLOYMENT AND FOR LIVING? HERE ARE SOME OF THE ANSWERS THAT BAYT.COM WAS ABLE TO REVEAL.

44 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

I

n today’s environment of economic, political, and social challenges, professionals across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are very eager to find out which countries and cities will give them the best career and life opportunities. Even expats coming in from around the globe find that they need to be extra selective when choosing a place for work. For many years, Qatar has been and continues to be a hot spot for domestic and international professionals joining all industries and career levels. In a recent survey by Bayt. com titled "Top Cities in the Middle East and North Africa", Doha ranked among the top ten cities to live in. In fact, the majority (71%) of Qatari citizens are happy about their current city of residence for a variety of reasons.


SUPPORTIVE ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT Indeed, when evaluating a city of residence, some of the most important characteristics that come to mind are availability of jobs, cost of living, compensation, and opportunities to advance professionally. Over a third of Doha respondents believe that career growth (38%), competitive salaries (38%) and benefits for working parents that they receive (33%) are either good or excellent. Qatar offers some of the most excellent labour rights in the region such as health insurance, social security systems, wage protection, end of service benefits, and termination rights. Six in 10 Qatari respondents find their health insurance and social security to be good or excellent. Close to half of respondents believe that their end of service benefits (41%), and vacation allowances (41%) are excellent or good.

FRIENDLY AND SAFE CULTURE Forces within cultures, societies, and cities affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of the individuals who are part of them. So, it comes as no surprise that such elements are taken into serious consideration when evaluating a country to live and work in. Socio-cultural factors such as crime rate and law enforcement are highly influential. Yet again, Qatar performs really well in this regard with two-thirds of its respondents feeling that the stability of the political environment (65%) is either good or excellent and over half (59%) feeling a sense of security and stability.

ATTRACTIVE FOR ENTREPRENEURS A country that welcomes and draws business leaders, creative thinkers, and aspiring entrepreneurs externally and from within borders is indeed a successful one. Financial elements are the most important entrepreneurship factors for professionals across the Middle East, with affordability of taxes and fees, ease of starting up a new business, and ease of finding finances to start a business as the most critical of them. When it comes to such factors that serve the entrepreneur and business community, Doha scores in the top 10 on a regional scale.

Visit www.bayt.com today and download the white paper to know more about the skills gap crisis in the Middle East.

HIGH STANDARDS OF LIVING When it comes to standards of living that determine the attractiveness of a city or a country, professionals prioritize safety and security, availability and quality of education as well as availability and quality of healthcare facilities. Qatar ranks very well in these aspects. Notably, nearly two-thirds of those living in Qatar believe that they have good or excellent availability of healthcare facilities (61%), and that the quality of these healthcare facilities (65%) is also good or excellent. Beyond that more than three-quarters of respondents rate the water, electricity and sewage systems (76%) as either good or excellent in Qatar. Certainly, these factors make the day-to-day activities easier and thus raise the attractiveness of the country overall.

CLEAN ENVIRONMENT More and more professionals are paying attention to the cleanliness of a city and a country before deciding where to move for work. The environment today is no less important than the economy of a country. Most importantly, professionals look at the cleanliness of water, air, and streets and evaluate accordingly. It turns out that Doha is among the most environmentally friendly cities in the region. Respondents from Qatar agree that their city has clean streets (71%), clean water (68%), and beautiful buildings and architecture (69%).

ABOUT BAYT.COM Bayt.com is the #1 job site in the Middle East with more than 40,000 employers and over 26,750,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. Post a job or find jobs on www.bayt.com today and access the leading resource for job seekers and employers in the region.

45 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > tag this

NEW STRATEGY, NEW DILEMMA

46 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


TURBULENT DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE IN 2016, STARTING WITH THE SURPRISING OUTCOME OF THE BRITISH REFERENDUM AND THE RISE OF POPULIST EUROSCEPTIC MOVEMENTS, COMPLETELY OVERSHADOWED OTHER IMPORTANT HAPPENINGS IN THE UNION, SUCH AS THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR THE EU’S FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY (EUGS). WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN FOR THE GCC COUNTRIES? BY STASA SALACANIN

47 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > tag this

D

espite the fact that Brexit shook the very foundations of the Union, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini presented the document just several days after the British decision to leave the EU, sending a symbolic message that she is sticking to her plan and showing that the EU remains united, functional and determined to follow its set agenda. However, this document, prepared and written before the British referendum, is going to be seriously challenged by the EU’s new reality, calling into question its full implementation and its realistic reach. “While the EU’s vital interests and key priorities will not change because of the UK’s future departure, the Community’s capacities to deliver on its ambitions certainly will,” Balazs Ujvari, Research Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Relations at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels, told Qatar Today. At this point it is still a great unknown how seriously the EU will be affected by the exit of one of its key states – a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council with vast military and foreign affairs potential. But even without Brexit, foreign policy has been the weakest spot of the EU integration. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a famous geostrategist and former advisor to US presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, once described Europe as “too passive regarding international security. Too self-satisfied, it acts as if its central

political goal is to become the world’s most comfortable retirement home.” Therefore, many say that it would actually be a great surprise if the new strategy brings any major policy impact. But to be fair, the new EU global strategy is more realistic and less idealistic than its previous one, adopted in 2003. Ujvari emphasises five priority objectives the new strategy identifies to be pursued collectively by the 28 members so as to secure their joint interests: (1) the security of the Union itself; (2) the stability of the EU’s neighbourhood; (3) addressing conflicts and crises; (4) cooperative regional orders; and (5) effective global governance. According to him, three of the above objectives are directly related to the Middle East. EUGS and the Middle East The EUGS mentions the Middle East on many occasions, and it is undeniable that it considers the region a key strategic hotspot, Andrea Frontini, a Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre, points out. “Although the EU’s performance in the region has – due to a ‘lethal mix’ of intraEuropean diplomatic rivalries – often been disappointing, showing limited capacities of the EU to deal with its explosive MiddleEastern neighbourhood, EUGS could still contribute to a more targeted, realistic and flexible EU engagement in the region,” he told our magazine. He believes we can expect a smarter, more focussed and ultimately more political involvement by the EU in the region in the near future, provided that EUGS’s main

predications are put into proper practice, and that Member States – some of which remain considerable diplomatic and security players in the wider Middle East region – truly decide to speak and act with more unity and greater coordination. “As for the EU-Gulf/GCC relations, there is growing awareness in the EU, including in its top leadership, that the two sides face a number of considerable common challenges, including terrorism and radicalisation, state collapse across the Middle East, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, maritime piracy, regional peacemaking, energy and socioeconomic transition, and tackling the manifold effects of climate change,” Frontini continued. But Ujvari thinks that the EU will face a great challenge in seeking to promote the resilience of its neighbours: while the EUGS clearly lowers the EU’s ambition of democratization, it will not – and should not – engage in action resulting in the propping up of undemocratic regimes. When facing this dilemma, EU strategy planners should perhaps have in mind Henry’s Kissinger thought that “a country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security.” On the other hand, it is evident that security and defence issues are a matter of urgency and the first priority of the EU’s external action. New strategy is very ambitious when it comes to military implications, saying that it “should enable the EU to act autonomously” and “undertake actions in cooperation

"As for the EU-GCC relations, there is growing awareness in the EU, including in its top leadership, that the two sides face a number of considerable common challenges, including terrorism and radicalisation, state collapse across the Middle East, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, maritime piracy, regional peacemaking, energy and socioeconomic transition, and tackling the manifold effects of climate change.” ANDREA FRONTINI Policy Analyst European Policy Centre

48 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


with NATO.” The recent opening of the NATO Regional Centre in Kuwait, which represents a nucleus for cooperation between NATO and the GCC especially in the war against terrorism, could be understood as one step toward this vision. However, there is also an evident lack of diplomatic ambition when it comes to dealing with conflicts and crises. “The emphasis appears to be placed on the local level (striking ceasefire), somewhat neglecting diplomatic efforts necessary to end a conflict. While the EUGS sets out to support peace agreements resulting from cross-party diplomatic talks, it foresees little if any leading role for the EU in driving such negotiations,” Ujvari added. But if the EU focuses on some niche areas where it can make a difference in the region (including trade, development aid and humanitarian assistance, migration, and security sector reform) there would be concrete chances for the EU to become one of the stabilising players in the Middle East, according to Frontini. Less multilateral and more bilateral relations The new strategy declares a willingness to pursue balanced engagement in the Gulf, which basically calls for strengthening cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council while gradually engaging with Iran, building on the E3+3 nuclear deal. This initiative will be ever more relevant and subjected to challenges from new US President Trump, who threatened to scrap the Iran deal. Also, launching parallel dialogues with the GCC and Iran is anything but an easy task and may prove very tricky. However, this is still an opportunity for stronger Euro-Arab political dialogue and cooperation if the League of Arab States is willing to (or is allowed to) partner with the EU in areas of common interest. But there are no grandiose plans about transformation of the region, probably to avoid raising expectations while failing to deliver once again. There is a general belief that the EU will be preoccupied with the implications of the Brexit vote, which may delay implementation of the EUGS. As a consequence, this may lead to less multilateralism and more bilateral relations between EU members and GCC states. “It is unquestionable that in areas like commercial promotion, political relations and defence cooperation, several EU Member States prefer ‘to go it alone’ in the Gulf,” Frontini noted. But this is

"The EU is institutionally bound to apply conditionality (political dialogue and human rights) in trade deals with external trading partners. Granting the GCC an exception will create a precedent for other parties actually or potentially trading with the EU." JOHANN WEICK Lecturer and Analyst GCC-EU relations, International trade relations, European policy

something that Qatar is good at, so we may expect further strengthening of bilateral relations with key EU countries, such as France and Germany. However, the collective weight of the EU, and the benefits of using it to deal with "macro issues" like trade and investment, climate change, migration, "soft security" (including cyber and piracy, but also counter-terrorism and violent extremism) and others, remains significant. But the GCC-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiation, which in any case has not seen any improvement for many years now, may fall victim to Brexit. According to Johann Weick, Brussels-based lecturer on international trade relations and European policy and analyst on GCC-EU relations, “the EU is institutionally bound to apply conditionality (political dialogue and human rights) in trade deals with external trading partners. Granting the GCC an exception will create a precedent for other parties actually or potentially trading with the EU.” Nevertheless, the GCC and EU already enjoy significant economic relations. The EU is the fourth

largest export market while the EU is the GCC's number one trading partner. Trade volumes between the two regions have almost doubled during the past decade and stood at slightly more than 155 billion euros in 2015. The European Union – which has seeks to lessen its dependency on Russian gas – is interested in accomplishing enhanced energy cooperation with the GCC states, Weick continued. “However, the GCC states seem to have their reservations, apparently making the conclusion of the long-sought, yet persistently elusive commercial deal on free trade between the two regional blocs as a precondition for new or enhanced cooperation in other areas of mutual interest,” he told Qatar Today. With absolutely no sign of a decisive GCC-EU trade negotiations re-engagement, it is logical that the GCC states seek to establish a closer relationship with Britain, a country with long-standing (friendship) ties, a globally credited financial centre (London) and more familiarity with the conflictsusceptible Gulf region than any other (current) EU member state, he concluded

"While the EU’s vital interests and key priorities will not change because of the UK’s future departure, the community’s capacities to deliver on its ambitions certainly will.” BALAZS UJVARI Research Fellow, Royal Institute for International Relations European Policy Centre

49 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


sports > tag this

Novak Djokovic is congratulated by a young fan after beating Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek during the quarter-finals of the 2017 Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. (AFP)

“FIND YOUR NICHE”

TENNIS ANNOUNCER ANDY TAYLOR HAS BEEN WORKING AT THE QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN AND QATAR TOTAL OPEN SINCE 2014. HE IS ALSO A RADIO AND VOICE-OVER ARTIST.

BY UDAYAN NAG

50 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


Serbia's NOVAK DJOKOVIC is congratulated by a young fan after beating Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek during the quarter-final of the ATP Qatar Open tennis competition in Doha on January 5, 2017. KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

A

s the country celebrated the 25th anniversary of its premier tennis event, the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, there is an individual who continues to make his presence felt at the stadium court of the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. And he is not one of the players, but is closest to the action, albeit his role quite often starts at the end of a match. Andy Taylor has been introducing players and conducting post-match interviews at international tennis tournaments for 15 years now. And there’s more to him than that. He is also a radio and voice-over artist. Taylor, in fact, started off his career in Springfield, Missouri, with the KTTS radio station in 1997 and continued to work with them till 2011. Commitment towards the community was what attracted Taylor to that particular job. “We covered news, played music and focused on families. In the US, morning radio shows are more about being entertaining and helping people get to work with smiles on their faces. So I would relate to people by telling them stories about my life. We would laugh for about four-and-a-half hours every

day. My day would start at 3:30 a.m. in the morning and my show a couple of hours later. It would finish at 10 a.m.,” says Taylor. “What I really adored about the job was the responsibility. There’s something special about being the first person awake and accessing all the information before giving it to people who need it to get their day started. It was a great feeling, a great job to have.” Since Taylor’s father was a radio artist, he did not have to go searching for inspiration. “My dad is 73 years old and he’s still working with a radio station in Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up watching my father go to work and absolutely loving his job. That was my example growing up. I didn’t want to be miserable in my job. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed. Seeing how much fun he had with radio shows, I decided that’s what I wanted to pursue as well. So when I first started out as a teenager I volunteered at some radio stations. I scrubbed toilets and cleaned the side of the building for a couple of years before getting my first opportunity.” Radio eventually led to television, and then the career-defining moment for Taylor came just before the Fed Cup fixture between the US and Israel in 2002. “I got a call from a colleague who said that Fed

Cup tennis was in town and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) needed an announcer for it. I was really busy and tempted to say no, but went ahead and did the job. I saw Lindsay Davenport for the first time; Monica Seles was playing for the US at that time; the legendary Billie Jean King was coach of the team; and it was a neat event for our small community to host. I followed the players, did the presentations and wrote the scripts.” According to Taylor, things started falling into place from then on. On the final day of the tie he got an offer to go to New York to audition for the lead announcer’s job at the US Open. At first he thought it was a joke, but the 2002 edition of the tournament at Flushing Meadows proved to be the turning point of his career. “We had Venus and Serena Williams slug it out for the singles crown at a packed Arthur Ashe stadium. Then the next night we had Pete Sampras take on Andre Agassi in the men’s singles final, and it turned out to be the last match of Sampras’s career. I felt that if this is what the US Open was all about, I would do everything possible to continue performing in this role. It has just been a great relationship with the USTA. Year after year I keep going back to the US Open.” 51 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


sports > tag this

Taylor also explains how he would juggle his tennis job with the one at the radio station. “I would take my broadcasting equipment to the US Open, wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and do my radio show from the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York. After that I would work all day till 2 a.m. in the morning at the US Open, get two hours of sleep before repeating the routine. It does teach a lot of discipline.” Apart from working at the US Open, Taylor has featured regularly at the ATP event in Indian Wells. He has also been part of the 2004 and 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Athens and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. Interestingly, his Doha chapter began at the 2011 Pan-Arab Games. Also, not only has he been travelling

There’s a team around me which I can depend on, but as far as the presentation is concerned, it’s all on my shoulders. I spend hours writing players’ bios and scripts so that they can be introduced properly. I also conduct post-match interviews at the end of a match. I prepare the giveaways - the balls that the players would autograph. I also have to print everything so that I can hand out hard copies to the rest of the team, and then I go out on court for the presentation ceremony which includes conducting interviews at the end of a match.” Hosting the players’ dinner gala at the hotel and preparing the script for that particular event are also part of Taylor's tasks. Talking to players at the conclusion of a match does provide an anecdote every

“NOW THAT WORK IS FOCUSSED ONLINE, I CAN USE THE CONTACTS AND RELATIONSHIPS WHICH I HAVE DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS. PEOPLE CAN NOW HIRE ME DIRECTLY THROUGH SITES LIKE ENVATO. SO A LOT OF THE WORK I DO ISN’T IN BOSTON WHERE I LIVE."

to Qatar for the ExxonMobil Open since 2014, he has also been involved with the Qatar Total Open, the women’s tennis tournament held annually in Doha, since that time. The challenges faced by him over here are a lot different. “For the US Open, we’ve got a large team of talented professionals to work on production. I write the players’ bios and take care of the presentations and voiceover for the content that needs to be put up on the big screens for radio and television commercials. I don’t have to do post-match interviews there because we have TV broadcasters doing that job. Occasionally I do a doubles trophy ceremony.” “Now events like Doha are different. 52 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

now and then which gets etched in one’s mind forever. “A couple of years ago (in Doha) I asked Novak Djokovic about his New Year’s resolution. He said that he wanted to have a voice like mine. And the same year at the Qatar Total Open I asked Victoria Azarenka about the distractions that come up during a match. She completely ignored my question and said: 'You make everyone sound like a rock star.' I just looked at her and replied: 'Thanks for changing the topic.' Those are some of the loudest moments that I can remember.” Taylor points out that one of the advantages of the tennis tournaments in Doha is that one can be much closer to the

players and thereby the action, which is not possible in other places where gaining access to important areas might not be that easy. Looking ahead, Taylor feels that it’s his voice-over expertise and online marketing skills which will call the shots in the future. “Voice-over is huge in my life right now since I am not getting any younger. Since 2011 I started focussing more on it and am enjoying it. I really like helping somebody manifest the vision they have for a video to be put on a website, a television commercial, or a movie project they might be working on. I have been building that part of my business lately.” “Now that work is focussed online, I can use the contacts and relationships which I have developed over the years. People can now hire me directly through sites like Envato. So a lot of the work I do isn’t in Boston where I live. It’s in places like Dubai, Paris, Columbia, Georgia, etc. Things are not completely online. There are still some studios which I have to visit, but nobody really employs me. Everything that I do now is freelance, an option which is becoming more and more popular because of the Internet.” And what does the future hold for youngsters aspiring to follow in Taylor’s footsteps? “If anybody is aspiring to be a tennis announcer, I don’t really know how to answer the question because it happened by accident in my case. I don’t take it for granted and I know how incredibly lucky I was. Like any other profession, if you really want something, you need to put in the time and effort.” “If it’s in Doha, you need to help out with the Qatar Tennis Federation. Get yourself close to the sport so that you have a chance to take advantage of any opportunity that might come your way. As far as voice-over is concerned, it’s not an easy field. There are so many people who have niches and corners of the industry locked up. So I’m still finding my way. In the production aspect, whether it’s film, online or television, I have not found a niche yet. That should be the goal. Find a niche where what you do is unique.”


development > tag this

TAX REFORMS ON THE ANVIL THE DAYS OF TAX-FREE REGIMES IN THE GCC REGION ARE SET TO END WITH THE MINISTRY OF DEVELOPMENT PLANNING AND STATISTICS (MDPS) CONFIRMING THAT QATAR WILL INTRODUCE A 5% VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) FROM JANUARY 1, 2018. BY V L SRINIVASAN 53 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


development > tag this

T “This is the perfect time for the companies in Qatar to start preparing for the VAT implementation by conducting an impact assessment of their operations, and upgrading their systems to accommodate the VAT requirements and be in compliance with VAT legislation in the country.” CRAIG RICHARDSON Partner Tax and Corporate Services, KPMG Qatar and Bahrain

he Ministry of Finance has already initiated the exercise of drafting domestic legislation for VAT and is expected to issue the same in the first half of 2017. Imposing VAT was a GCC-wide agreement, MDPS said in its semi-annual economic update early this year. Leaders of the sixmember Gulf States debated the subject for more than a decade and adopted a draft VAT framework executive summary in May 2015. Subsequently, the states held several rounds of meetings and finally agreed on the introduction of VAT in the GCC in June this year. While these countries had surplus cash reserves owing to high oil prices till June 2014, they started to feel the pinch as the oil prices crashed from $114 per barrel at that time to as low as $27 per barrel early this year. This is said to be one of the reasons for the GCC region to tighten the purse strings and take several steps to rein in their respective economies. The steps include gradual phasing out of food and fuel subsidies. Besides VAT, Qatar is considering levying additional taxes on items such as fast food, tobacco and soft drinks. It also plans to hike the water and power tariffs to bring them closer to fair market value as they are still heavily subsidised at present. The government has already increased power and water tariffs earlier last year. The possibility of new taxes will nudge up Qatar’s consumer price inflation and these measures are expected to cause inflation to increase from 3.4% this year to 3.8% by 2018, the ministry’s economic update said. Right time “This is the perfect time for the companies in Qatar to start preparing for the VAT implementation by conducting an impact assessment of their operations, and upgrading their systems to accommodate the VAT requirements and be in

54 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

compliance with VAT legislation in the country,” said Craig Richardson, Partner, Tax and Corporate Services, KPMG Qatar and Bahrain. While how much revenue the proposal will generate cannot be assessed as of now, the major impact of VAT on companies will be gearing up for the tax, understanding how to apply the draft legislation (when issued) and the implications on all aspects of their business including Treasury, Finance, HR, Procurement, Sales, Legal and IT, he said. Richardson also said that VAT, being a consumption tax on the end customers, is ultimately borne by them. To mitigate the effect of this burden on low income earners, many basic foodstuffs are exempt from VAT and the same could apply to medicines and medical equipment and other essential items. “This is how VAT works. Simplistically, companies that are registered for VAT pass it through as input tax incurred on their purchases against output tax on their sales, and pay over the ‘net amount’ to the tax authorities,” he pointed out. Many challenges However, it is not going to be an easy task for the GCC countries to implement VAT effectively as they face many challenges and need several important sequential steps to secure it. “The GCC governments have to establish an effective VAT administration, IT system and a well-trained professional workforce with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to efficiently administer the VAT system, develop and deliver public and industry information campaigns and education programmes to ensure that taxpayers are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the likely impact the tax will have on them,” Richardson added. Global audit and consulting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ernst & Young (EY) have been holding


“Corporate structures and supply chains also need to be analysed in light of the new tax to ensure that potential inefficiencies can be detected and addressed in a proactive manner.” FINBARR SEXTON MENA Indirect Tax Leader Ernst & Young Qatar

VAT workshops as part of a region-wide initiative to update local businesses on the latest developments and the implications of the legislation. At one such meeting in Qatar, tax experts from PwC felt that VAT will present a number of challenges for businesses and individuals operating in the region. Addressing the participants, Wadih AbouNasr, Qatar Country Senior Partner, said that PwC’s recent publication entitled “Managing Tax” highlighted the importance of investing in technology to help manage the additional workload that VAT would introduce in the coming days. “The clients we surveyed and spoke to recognised that making the required systems changes for VAT would be a major challenge. They also saw that putting in place appropriate controls and tax knowledge to manage VAT technical issues would also be challenging,” he averred. Wadih further said, “It can be easy to underestimate the amount of time and resources that will be required to implement VAT effectively. There will be great demands placed on finance and tax departments given the volume of data and number of transactions that will be covered. Ensuring that systems are installed to help manage this will save both time and money, and improve accuracy and efficiency.” Broad impact Finbarr Sexton, MENA indirect tax leader, EY, said that VAT will have a broad impact and diversify government revenue sources and reduce reliance on oil revenues to finance government expenditures. He said that the timelines for businesses to build out the VAT capability was challenging as it required careful planning and a structured programme to ensure that the business was VAT ready, including people, processes, controls and technology. “Corporate structures and supply chains also need to be analysed in light of the new tax ... to ensure that potential inefficiencies

can be detected and addressed in a proactive manner,” he said. Sounding a word of caution, he said that businesses may have to bear additional costs if VAT was not applied correctly and non-compliance with tax laws would attract severe penalties. “All businesses must undertake a review of their current contracts to determine whether VAT has been appropriately addressed,” he said. He said that the GCC member states are at varying degrees of readiness for VAT implementation but it is expected that at least some countries will come out with their respective VAT laws shortly after the release of the GCC VAT Framework Agreement, and therefore, before the end of 2016. The implementation of VAT in the GCC from 2018 means that businesses operating in the GCC now only have 14 months to prepare for its implementation and to become compliant with the respective GCC VAT laws. As such, GCC businesses should initiate a VAT impact assessment immediately in order to determine the impact that VAT will have across their operations, he said. This assessment should consider the impact of VAT in key areas such as finance and accounting, IT and systems, tax and compliance, supply chain - goods and services, contracts, sales and marketing, legal structure and human resources. “The impact assessment should be used to develop a clear plan as to the steps that must be taken to be ready for VAT from January 2018 and this plan should be implemented as soon as possible,” Finbarr said. The GCC Finance Ministers are also expected to finalise the GCC Excise Duty Framework Agreement in addition to the VAT regulations. They have already discussed implementing excise duty in their countries from January 1, 2017. The GCC Excise Duty Framework has also not yet been officially released, but it is expected to be made public by end of 2016, he added

“The clients we surveyed and spoke to recognised that making the required systems changes for VAT would be a major challenge. They also saw that putting in place appropriate controls and tax knowledge to manage VAT technical issues would also be challenging.” WADIH ABOUNASR Country Senior Partner PricewaterhouseCoopers Qatar

55 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


hospitality > tag this

A NEW BRAND IN DOHA WITH THE ARRIVAL OF BUSINESS PARK’S HOLIDAY INN, GENERAL MANAGER MARCUS SUTTON IS CHALLENGING TRADITIONAL HOTELIER PRACTICES AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE OF TOURISM IN QATAR.

BY LINDSEY KNEPSHIELD

56 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

G

eneral Manager Marcus Suttonoften has to cover up his high-end suits with a neon construction vest these days, ducking under wooden beams and weaving his way through half-painted hallways as he oversees the creation of Qatar’s first Holiday Inn branch. An Australian native, Sutton has lived in the Middle East for the past nine years, working within the hotel industry in Jordan, the UAE and now Qatar. Though he is relatively new to the country, having moved here last

April, his experiences have led to perceptive insights on both Qatar’s tourism industry and the industry within the greater Middle Eastern region. Other GCC countries might have suffered due to reduced oil prices and a spending-conscious population, but Sutton believes that the government’s focus on hospitality along with Qatar Airways growing international recognition has elevated Qatar’s tourism industry. “There’s been a natural alignment of the market,” said Sutton. “And with the government opening up travel visas, it’s having a positive impact on the number of leisure travellers coming into the


MARCUS SUTTON General Manager Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza

region.” The InterContential Hotels Group (IHG) saw an opportunity to cater to this wider array of travellers in Qatar’s underdeveloped four-star hotel market and in 2014 they broke ground on The Holiday Inn - Business Park. A mix of the fresh and the familiar The Holiday Inn is more playful than its Crowne Plaza neighbour just a few steps away. Bright orange accent walls and bold geometric designs, including an eyecatching spiral staircase in the lobby and several uniquely beautiful lighting features, create warm, energetic public spaces. Combatting the clichÈ of bland hotel art, The Holiday Inn features prints and reproductions of work done by local artists as well as bespoke Doha-inspired modern contemporary art. Within the guest rooms,

the colours cool to soft blues and greys with stylish hints of hexagons on the carpet. There are six floors with 307guest rooms and suites, which on average are more compact than those offered at Crowne Plaza. Six of those rooms are handicappedaccessible, with shorter beds and furniture, wider spaces for wheelchair use, and a walkin shower. There is an outdoor pool and lounge along with a 24-hour fitness centre. Sutton and the rest of his colleagues at the Business Center are hoping that the fresh atmosphere might tempt those looking for a more economical, less business-oriented stay in Doha. Not to say that the Holiday Inn is unable to cater to business-minded visitors-far from it. There are seven meeting rooms within the hotel, equipped with all the latest technology. The Hub on the ground floor is

a multi-function business centre where guests can catch up on emails and stay connected to their company. The Holiday Inn will also have the largest ballroom in Business Park, able to accommodate up to 850 guests with a direct entrance for cars and a connecting green room, which is fully private and could be the perfect place for a bride on her wedding day. Most of these rooms can be partitioned to form several smaller spaces if that better suits a guest’s needs. An added benefit: the facilities in Crowne Plaza are available for Holiday Inn guests as well. Two brands; one Business Park Sutton emphasised the interconnectivity of the two hotels in Business Park, stating that the intention is for them to function as distinct brands under the same management 57 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


hospitality > tag this

A tunnel underneath the property makes the connection literal as well as figurative, enabling staff to move quickly between the two hotels. since they are both IHG companies and are located so close together. This has led to an untraditional managerial structureSutton will be General Manager for both hotels, and there will be only one Food and Beverage Manager. Housekeeping will stay based in Crowne Plaza. IHG’s desire to streamline and increase efficiency makes a communication breakdown between hotels less likely, and means that that staff is expected to be more dynamic. For instance, a receptionist at the Holiday Inn might come out from behind the desk to help a guest with luggage. For larger events, say a wedding in the ballroom, management will be able to pull staff from one hotel and delegate them new responsibilities. This lessens the need for outside help, making larger events more cost-efficient for IHG and ensuring the brand’s high standards of customer service remain intact. Personnel will be expected to “switch hats” when moving between the more conservative, formal ambiance preferred in the Crowne Plaza to the easygoing conversational one of the Holiday Inn, ensuring that the atmospheres of the two hotels remain distinct from each other. A tunnel underneath the property makes the connection literal as well as figurative, enabling staff to move quickly between the two hotels. The symbiotic relationship between the hotels will certainly benefit guests as well. The exemplary dining options in Crowne Plaza will be complemented by less formal options in Holiday Inn, such as the new sports bar featuring food by U.K. staple Stock Burger Company and Italian cuisine at Sirocco serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If a guest chooses a restaurant in 58 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

the opposite hotel from his own, he will still be able to charge it to his room. Now guests can sample a wide array of food without leaving the property. By approaching the dining experience with the mindset of an independent restaurateur rather than an hotelier, Sutton believes the cuisine will be more than just “good hotel food” and will make Business Park a dining destination in its own right. This will be made even easier once the Crowne Plaza stop of the Qatar Rail is complete. A hotel to parallel a nation Ultimately, Sutton believes that visitors to Qatar are looking for a more authentic Middle Eastern experience than larger, fast-paced cities like Dubai might be able to

provide. “Qatar is pitched as more cultural,” Sutton said, adding that the government’s investment in developing Qatar as both a leisure and sports destination could quite possibly solidify its place as a global vacation hotspot. Qatar is not unfamiliar with the international stage by any means, but 2030 vision looks ahead to a world where the country’s status is elevated. This combination of culture and ambition made Qatar an ideal fit for the Holiday Inn brand, which models itself as a hotel for rising stars. The Holiday Inn - Business Park will be accepting reservations as of this August, and construction is expected to be complete for a soft opening in May and a grand opening in early autumn


SPOTLIGHT THE ART OF GIVING BACK

Art The

Of

Giving 60 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


Something new and fresh is afoot in Qatar’s business world. Corporate social responsibility is evolving beyond philanthropy, becoming more strategic and organisationally embedded.

Back

61 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


SPOTLIGHT THE ART OF GIVING BACK

U

Globally in the past decade, we’ve witnessed a stunning transition as CSR evolved from a nice-to-have silo to a fundamental strategic priority. 62 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

nlike many imported business practices, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was embraced without resistance in the GCC as it aligned neatly with the Islamic tenet of Zakat, or charitable giving. So hitherto companies here have been perfectly content with CSR activities primarily focused on corporate philanthropy. This is an “easy” form of CSR engagement; it requires little managerial effort beyond the signing and posting of a cheque but these donations to local charities and interest groups have served to satisfy the interests of a broader group of stakeholders. Despite the deep cultural and religious underpinnings of corporate philanthropy, there have been notable attempts to embrace the spirit of CSR and not look at it just as a marketing channel. Such initiatives generally tend to be transparent in their motives and unsustainable and hence end up being counter-productive. The idea is to leverage the operational strength of the organisation towards positive impact. If done right, CSR is a win-win. Increasingly, meaningful CSR appears to be becoming the norm among the region’s corporations, large and small. Globally in the past decade, we’ve witnessed a stunning transition as CSR evolved from a niceto-have silo to a fundamental strategic priority. More recently, we’ve watched as companies went beyond their own walls, using their influence to advocate for global solutions around issues such as climate change, education, poverty, and equal and human rights. These trends are not going unnoticed in the GCC. As the Gulf moves towards the next phase of its CSR journey, there have been earnest attempts to cultivate a deeper understanding of CSR and its implications. An example of this is the CSR Majlis by Vodafone Qatar and Carnegie Mellon University which brought together scores of peers and experts in CSR and sustainability to debate the critical role a well-defined corporate purpose and solid business ethics play in creating sustainable change. The CSR Majlis programme aims at providing an open platform that facilitates dialogue and knowledge sharing between peers representing both the public and private sectors of Qatar. It is held regularly and under themes to connect the leaders of this field and bring them together to explore ways of collaboration and mutual support. This collaborative atmosphere can be considered unique to this management branch. As there is no “one size fits all” model for CSR, any strategic decision will depend on the particular

circumstances of the organisation. So it’s largely beneficial to come together to discuss these issues, because there are several factors to consider; to regard CSR from a strategic perspective is largely about paying greater attention to political and social risks, as well as opportunities. This is why it’s easier for CSR practitioners to share knowledge and experiences. It is from these global discussions that some trends emerge, which can be extrapolated to suit the needs of the region. There is a call for corporations to stick to their commitments to sustainability regardless of political changes. This is especially relevant to the USA which is expecting to see a weakening of social and environmental regulations. CSR experts also increasingly see corporations stepping up as advocates and problem-solvers. In 2017, we can expect to see more corporations step up to address challenges outside the company and tackle large global problems, like climate change and sustainable development goals. The role of the Chief Sustainability Officer also continues to grow more sophisticated; the bar has been raised, often they report directly to the CEO and there is a new demand and reliance on CSR leaders to influence the private sector. It’s all in the semantics. There is a shift in terminology in addressing these activities; from “corporate social responsibility” to “social impact”. This branding shift reflects a growing consensus that the key driver for a company’s pro-social programme should not be some generic standard of responsibility or as penance for perceived negative effects, but rather unique, measurable, positive impact – human, environmental, societal, and financial. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, corporations are also expected to play a big role in accelerating the transition to the circular economy. With a growing population and ever-rising demand for resources, it’s becoming necessary to find ways to eliminate waste and reuse valuable materials endlessly, to replace the “throw away” culture with a “fix it” one. Importantly, much discussion about CSR concerns the corporation's impact on society which sometimes leads to its internal stakeholders being forgotten. For example, a corporation’s employees are perhaps its most important constituency, in part because of the pervasive influence that the corporation has over their lives, but also strategically because they are the holders of the organisation's core competencies. This is particularly relevant to companies in the GCC who have been finding it incredibly difficult to attract and retain employees with the right skills.


Sasol continues to promote accessibility Sasol supported the British Council’s annual Diversity Week by presenting an accessibility workshop for students and staff.

A safety net Vodafone Qatar organised a treasure hunt at Gulf Mall and Hyatt Plaza to inform parents about how to keep their children safe in the digital world and to encourage them to have an open dialogue with their children about these matters.

T

he treasure hunts involve a number of puzzles about the digital world today that parents need to solve in collaboration with their children to win prizes. This comes under the banner of AmanTECH, Vodafone’s aid programme for online child safety. Launched in May 2014, AmanTech, which stands for “safe tech world”, aims at promoting digital literacy amongst parents and improving children’s digital safety. In 2017, AmanTech will continue to reach out to parents and children aged between 5 and 17 years. The programme will adopt a three-pronged approach with a focus on awareness, education and technical support. This will entail ongoing school parental workshops, an online source for information and tips for parents, online magazines, in addition to aa digital parenting guide available online.

O

n a yearly basis, the British Council organises a global Diversity Week featuring a number of fun, as well as educational events, taking place at the British Council office for staff, visitors and customers. This year, the British Council also announced their official support for the Accessible Qatar initiative; its students will be contributing to the application’s user-submitted reviews. Sasol’s accessibility consultant, Jennifer Stirling, conducted the workshop, explaining the inspiration for the project, application and website. Accessible Qatar, which builds on Sasol’s ongoing Definitely Able CSR initiative, grew out of an engaging session called “Finding the Accessible Doha” during the Definitely Able Conference in March 2015. Disabled individuals from around Qatar, the region and the world discussed inclusion for people with disability as full members of society. Sasol, in partnership with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, Qatar Tourism Authority, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Mada, and the Shafallah Center and in close collaboration with Qatar Social & Cultural Center for the Blind and the Qatari Center of Social Cultural for the Deaf, developed the initiative to help the local community. Additionally, Sasol has recently partnered with the construction exhibition Project Qatar in order to raise awareness around accessibility and to encourage project developers to make their existing and future venues accessible.

Run for a greener earth Hundreds of people participated in the annual Al Dana Green Run organised by Doha Bank at Aspire Zone. Families, running enthusiasts and go green supporters across Qatar put their best foot forward for a cleaner, greener tomorrow at the annual run that covered a 3-km circuit around Khalifa Stadium. The Al Dana Green Run is hosted every year by Doha Bank to build participation and awareness on environmental protection among people in Qatar. To celebrate 12 years of the green run, Doha Bank put together an enhanced agenda this year that included as many as eight race categories catering to different age groups and social segments.

63 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


SPOTLIGHT THE ART OF GIVING BACK

Supporting a good cause AG Middle East recently held a luncheon for Teach For Qatar’s Fellows at the five-star Banana Island Resort Doha, showcasing its support for the NGO’s "Summer Institute" programme.

T

he "Summer Institute" is an integral component of Teach For Qatar’s training programme. The eightweek intensive course serves as a foundation for the two-year Leadership Journey, which provides passionate leaders with the opportunity to positively impact Qatar’s students by nurturing teaching and leadership skills and by preparing Fellows for their placements at independent schools. Nasser Al Jaber, CEO of Teach For Qatar, said, “We are extremely grateful to AG Middle

East. Their contributions have helped us provide rigorous training for our Fellows who have chosen to become part of the solution to some of the education challenges that students in Qatar face.” The luncheon was also attended by distinguished golfer José Maria Olazabal, winner of over 30 worldwide professional golf tournaments. Olazabal is co-founder with tennis champion Rafel Nadal, of the Olazabal & Nadal Invitational, a charitable foundation that aims at combating social exclusion.

CSR in the curriculum A Memorandum of Understanding between Qatar University (QU) and Qatar Corporate Social Responsibility Network, which sought to inspire university students concerning the concept of social responsibility through numerous initiatives, has been extended by three years until 2020.

O

ver the past three years several initiatives have been spearheaded under this Moll, including the National CSR Report, academic studies and research, specialised lectures and workshops, and the CSR exhibition, the next edition of which will be hosted in March 2017 by QU. The educational event is the “first of its kind” in Qatar and aims at reviewing the different experiences of business leaders in order to raise students’ awareness through the creation of a realistic engagement with representatives of the public and private sectors. On the sidelines of the exhibition various workshops will be conducted to tackle

64 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

major issues such as social responsibility within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030, the partnership between the public and private sectors, and the global standard ISO 26000. The conference will also deal with related topics such as the social responsibility of QU, the CSR initiative of Harvard University and the CSR Person of the Year. The organising committee of the exhibition and conference is counting on the added value that will be achieved through the interaction between the students and leaders of multinational companies and various corporations and agencies from the private and public sectors who will attend the event.


A cool new way to be

Sustainable

B

For Qatar Cool, sustainability is no longer just about doing business responsibly – it is also about identifying key social and sustainability challenges, and finding ways to work with others to resolve them.

eing a responsible and sustainable Qatari organisation is of the utmost importance to us. We believe that district cooling has a critical role to play in the country’s development and the National Vision 2030. Qatar Cool commits to reducing environmental risks, preserving natural resources and improving economic growth and opportunities. Qatar Cool ensures that the growth of operations is undertaken in a sustainable and responsible manner. We aim at being a responsible employer and adopting values and standards designed to help guide our staff in our conduct and business relationships. The company recognises its responsibility and integrity in meeting best practice benchmarks when interacting with its employees and stakeholders. Environment Qatar Cool takes the environmental impact of district cooling very seriously. Although

district cooling has minimal environmental impact and energy consumption compared to conventional cooling systems, there are additional methodologies to further optimize environmental savings. Qatar Cool contributes substantially to the environment; we have achieved the reduction of over 150 million kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in 2016 alone. This is equivalent to removing over 28,000 thousand vehicles from the roads or planting 15 million mature trees. District cooling plants are operated more efficiently with less harm to the environment by eliminating such things as carbon dioxide, possible gas leaks and noise pollution. Qatar Cool has put into action the switch from potable water to Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) as make-up water in our West Bay plants, thus saving a vital natural resource. TSE in the Middle East and other Gulf countries is a resource that is underexploited. Local authorities in Qatar have developed a conservation plan

with all major district cooling companies in the country, which have access to readily available TSE to make the switch from potable water to TSE. Qatar Cool’s third plant in the West Bay District, which is currently under construction, is the first cooling plant in Qatar to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The plant, once operational, will operate using TSE as its make-up water. Qatar Cool is focused on increasing the awareness of district cooling values and benefits while stressing sustainability and conservation in the country. To do this we support several conferences/seminars focused on district cooling, sustainability and the future of Qatar. Community Qatar Cool’s CSR objectives reflect the commitment of the organisation's responsibility towards society, users and the environment locally, regionally and 65 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


SPOTLIGHT THE ART OF GIVING BACK

internationally. In this sense, Qatar Cool is positioned as an industry driver, promoting and implementing international, clean and green policies. Beyond the positive media coverage the company receives, its actions have spoken loudly of its vision, culture and proactive thinking. We produce collaterals that shed light on the benefits of district cooling, not only for customers, but also to society and the government. We highlight facts such as district cooling provides financial gain as electricity is a subsidized commodity and the impact on its demand is an impact on national resources. Qatar Cool also encourages its customers and the community to conserve energy and water; we introduced the "Conserve Today, Preserve Tomorrow" guide. The guide consists of useful tips on methods to conserve energy, such as not cooling unoccupied rooms, regular maintenance and many more, not only for users but for building management too. We will continue to encourage conservation within the community with our partner Tarsheed. Qatar Cool participates annually in Earth Day, World Water Day and the GCC Conservation Week along with our partners and the community; as an organization it is essential for us to show our community spirit, and to enlighten our customers on the work we do for both them, as our customers, and for the general community in the state of Qatar, and the environment. During such events we engage with our stakeholders and display important information on conservation, sustainability and the environment. We also hold environmental discussions with local schools, stressing the importance of sustainability and conservation to enable us to engage with our customers while 66 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

Qatar Cool runs a three-month clothes donation drive on The Pearl-Qatar for all residents in association with Qatar Charity’s TAYF project. The clothes donation sees the community come together and give back to the society through their contributions.

creating awareness about the environment through their children. Qatar Cool in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation runs a blood donation drive on The Pearl-Qatar to raise social awareness about the benefits of communal bonding, not to mention the associated health benefits for the donors themselves. Qatar Cool feels a sense of responsibility to contribute to the social development of the country, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar Cool runs a three-month clothes donation drive on The Pearl-Qatar, for all residents in association with Qatar Charity’s TAYF project. The clothes donation sees the community come together and give back to the society through their contributions. Partnerships Qatar Cool and Tarsheed will work together to deploy key messages and implement programmes to schools, residents and

business owners on energy conservation and efficiency through their partnership, in line with the national campaign for the conservation and efficient use of water and electricity in Qatar. Qatar Cool is a member of the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) and is active in the Green Education Interest Group which focuses on educating and training university students on sustainability and environmental issues. The group regularly formulates lesson plans, projects and presentations for the students. Qatar Cool sponsored the Green Program for Schools (GPS) under the banner of Oryx Advertising and Qatar Today magazine. The GPS is the largest and the most engaging green environmental initiative for students; this initiative goes beyond typical competitions and places the responsibility of sustainability directly on the students, making each of their contributions valuable to the environment we live in. Students are constantly reminded of the obligation they have towards the environment. Schools are invited to be part of the programme and given orientation session in administrating and initiating green responsibilities. In an effort to enhance the conservational impact and development of district cooling in Qatar, Qatar Cool and the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) entered into a partnership outlining our plans to work together to expand on environmental reserves and research with regards to district cooling as well as explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of district cooling in Qatar. One of the key projects we will embark on is to investigate the reuse of TSE for critical applications by providing an advanced treatment process to deliver a high quality of TSE


development > tech talk

The Ministry of Transport and Communications recently launched two milestone systems initiated by the Communication Regulatory Authority to ensure effective and seamless management and monitoring of the radio spectrum usage in Qatar.

AN EYE ON THE SPECTRUM

H

E Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti launched two milestone systems – Automated Spectrum Monitoring System (ASMS) and Automated Frequency Management System (AFMS) by inaugurating the Communication Regulatory Authorityís (CRA) National Monitoring Center – equipped with technology to monitor spectrum usage remotely. "The launch of these systems marks an important milestone that will ensure effective management of monitoring the radio spectrum which is a solid foundation of

CRA's Spectrum Policy and Regulatory Framework. Both, ASMS & AFMS, empower CRA to oversee its mandate to manage and monitor the legitimate use of radio spectrum in the country, especially for key sectors like oil & gas, aviation, maritime, infrastructure development, among others," said HE Mohammed Ali Al Mannai, President of CRA. The key to the operations, however, is the National Monitoring Center (NMC), which accesses, monitors and controls servers in four Fixed Monitoring Stations (Al Rayyan, Al Shamal, Al Kharara and Zikrit) and two Mobile Monitoring Stations.

RECALLING iPHONE 6S

Ministry of Economy and Commerce announced a recall of iPhone 6S because of technical issues. The ministry announced the free product recall for iPhone 6S because of an expected shutdown issue. According to Apple, only a small number of devices manufactured between September and October 2015 are facing this issue. In a statement the company said, "Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down. This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015."

68 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


FASTER CONNECTIVITY Nokia and mobile operator Ooredoo Qatar have achieved a symmetrical 40 gigabit per second speed using Nokia's Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexing Passive Optical Network fibre technology in a trial in January.

N

okia's TWDM-PON technology is said to deliver four additional wavelengths, each providing 10 Gbps symmetrical speeds, eventually providing a total of 40 Gbps. The vendor said the enhanced speed will allow the operator to upgrade its networks from the existing gigabit PON at speeds up to 2.5 Gbps to XGS-PON with speeds up to 10 Gbps and in the future to TWDM-PON at speeds up to 40 Gbps. The TWDM-PON technology, also referred to as Next Generation Passive Optical Network 2 technology, was deployed over Ooredoo's existing single fibre network. Nokia said the overlay technology is capable of adding more capacity to existing networks.

SMART QATAR

THE REAL TIME FEEL SAP, FC Bayern Munich and Aspire Academy recently announced that Qatar is set to enjoy the world's most technologically advanced fan experience thanks to the innovative use of real-time technology. Qatar is rapidly developing public-private partnerships for the construction of connected stadiums and the enhancement of national team competitiveness, youth development, technology and communications infrastructure. "Worldwide, we are entering the age of the Digital Fan. Qatar has the opportunity to deliver the ultimate fan experience – from planning their trip beforehand, to providing exclusive media content, and ordering and delivering concessions to their seats," said Andreas Jung, Member of the Executive Board at FC Bayern Munich. FC Bayern Munich has used real-time technology to react more rapidly to its 30,000 hourly fan dialogues through digital channels, keep players healthy, and deliver new products and services in response to fan demands. Qatar's Aspire Academy is also using SAP HANA, the real-time analytics platform, to drive youth development by sharing data from a network of clubs around the world with coaches, sports scientists, athletes, and management. "Sports teams have long known the benefits of using real-time data during matches to enhance lineups and strategies. As the Middle Eastís first youth sport academy to partner with a leading technology company, Aspire Academy is dedicated to using big data analytics to develop young talent in Qatar and enhance Qatar's competitiveness," said Ivan Bravo, Director General, Aspire Academy.

DIGITAL JUSTICE MOTC and Supreme Judiciary Council signed an MoU to electronically develop courts in Qatar. QITCOM, managed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications under the theme "Qatar – Towards a Smart Future", will take place from March 6 to 8 at QNCC.

I

n a press conference held earlier this month, Reem Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Society Development Sector, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said, "QITCOM is now in its fourth successful year and QITCOM 2017 brings together a large and diverse ecosystem of stakeholders involved in the technology sector from international CEOs and CIOs, Qatar's key decision makers, smart technology providers, entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators under one umbrella to exchange ideas and collaborate towards achieving the vision of a smarter Qatar." Around 90 exhibitors and co-exhibitors comprising international tech giants and local companies will be demonstrating the latest digital technologies and smart solutions.

HE Minister of Transport and Communications and Chairman of Qatar e-GOV2020 Steering Committee Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti and the Head of the Court of Cassation and President of the Supreme Judiciary Council Masoud Mohamed Al Amiri witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and the Supreme Judiciary Council to modernise and develop courts in Qatar electronically. The Committee was charged with developing and guiding the implementation of a nationwide Digital Government strategy.

69 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > market watch

TAKING THE PULSE OF ITS CUSTOMERS JUMEIRAH GROUP CEO STEFAN LESER TALKS ABOUT THE COMPANY'S EXPANSION DRIVE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET. BY UDAYAN NAG 70 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


"We take time to understand our guests' needs through roadshows and research, and adapt as guest preferences change and evolve." A twin deluxe room in Jumeirah Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah Resort, Dubai

L

Wadi Pool, Jumeirah Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah Resort, Dubai

ate last year, the Qatar Roadshow events organised by Dubai-based luxury hotel chain Jumeirah Group welcomed over 200 specialists from the travel trade industry. The company’s Director of Global Sales Jad Doumet had said then that Qatar was among the top five markets with tourists visiting Jumeirah Group’s hotels around the world. In addition, the number of overnight stays by Qatari tourists at the group’s hotels around the world had increased by 4% as of October 2016, compared with the same period the previous year. He also added that the opening of the Burj Al Arab Terrace had already started to attract tourists from across the GCC and from Qatar in particular. Jumeirah Group CEO Stefan Leser echoed his colleague’s views and further emphasised the importance of conducting

roadshows. Last December, the group opened Jumeirah Al Naseem, part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai, which has a total of 430 rooms within its premises. “We take time to understand our guests’ needs through roadshows and research and adapt as guest preferences change and evolve. Our future plans are to focus on key markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and bring our special brand of hospitality to our guests’ home market,” says Leser. The group, very much on an expansion drive, currently has 10 hotels under construction in the Asia Pacific region. Leser feels that Al Naseem brings a contemporary architectural flavour to the Madinat resort by offering a luxurious experience focused on a journey of discovery through the modern culture of the city. “We occupy the most prestigious beach in Dubai which now stretches along two kilometres of its coastline. The amenities

at Al Naseem suit all types of travellers – families, couples, friends, groups and people on business trips. One also gets to enjoy views of our flagship property, the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.” The group currently operates 21 properties and is looking at regional as well as international expansion. “We take our time to find the ideal property to add to our portfolio – one that is right for our stakeholders, colleagues as well as guests. Since 2011, we have doubled our hotel portfolio and are aiming at continuing this momentum,” says Leser. “Our anticipation is that 10 Jumeirah hotels will start operating in the next three years. We’ll be opening the 250-room Jumeirah Nanjing in China in Q2 2017. This will be followed by openings in Oman, St. Petersburg, Abu Dhabi and Jordan. Eight of our hotels under construction in the Asia Pacific region are in China. Apart from Nanjing, Jumeirah Guangzhou, a 198room luxury hotel in 2019, and hotels in Qiandaohu, Wuhan, Sanya, Hangzhou and Wuhan feature among our plans.” Champion golfer Rory McIlroy was the company’s global ambassador from 2007-12, but it turned out to be a one-time promotional tactic employed by them. Leser claims that the move paid off but explains why it was done away with. “Our five-year relationship with McIlroy 71 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > market watch

"Our five-year relationship with Rory McIlroy was an excellent way to bring our brand to a wider audience and he was a fantastic global ambassador for us." was an excellent way to bring our brand to a wider audience and he was a fantastic global ambassador for us. When we started working with him back in 2007, we were his first corporate sponsor and we are proud to have supported him in his rise in professional golf. As our portfolio grew, we started welcoming more and more visitors to our hotels and our guests have now become our ambassadors.” The group has also been in the news regarding other developments. There were a series of new appointees last year. Marc Dardenne joined the company as Group COO in September after Leser had taken over the post of Group CEO from Gerald Lawless in February. There has also been a fair bit of reshuffling at the global level. Other than that, the group announced the closure of a number of its renowned restaurants Tokyo@theTowers, Harry Ghatto and The Ivy Dubai. However, Leser does not feel that the turn of events sent the wrong message. “Tokyo@theTowers and Harry Ghatto were fantastic success stories. They were open for 16 years, which is an impressive run for a restaurant, especially in a fastpaced city like Dubai. We will soon open a new brand concept in that space, which is part of a Jumeirah-led innovation plan for Emirates Towers Boulevard,” he said. Leser also makes the point that the company currently operates 215 food and beverage outlets across the group and that the culinary offerings were an important part of the Jumeirah experience. “In recent times, there has been significant investment

72 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

in the group’s restaurants, including the launch of a number of collaborations with renowned chefs – Michael Caines (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers), Nathan Outlaw (Burj Al Arab Jumeirah) and Tom Kerridge (Jumeirah Carlton Tower).” In 2015, the Jumeirah group launched the Emiratisation initiative, #BeTheHost, to encourage Emiratis to join the hospitality industry. The group employs more than 300 Emiratis and is committed to create opportunities to recruit more talent into the business, including the next generation of UAE’s workforce. “Hospitality is an excellent career choice and we are proud that Emiratis hold a number of important senior roles within the group, including at the chief executive

Ocean Suite in Jumeirah Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah Resort, Dubai

officer level,” says Leser. “Dubai’s hospitality industry is expected to be the key driver of the job market ahead of EXPO 2020. It is anticipated that as much as 70% of the 25 million visitors expected during EXPO 2020 will be from outside the UAE. And hotels are often the first real engagement a visitor has with a city, so they are very important as a platform to showcase a nation’s spirit and culture." Leser adds that Jumeirah also supported the bid for EXPO 2020 Dubai, and that the group is very much at the forefront of hotel development in the UAE. He suggests that with the World Cup coming to Qatar, a similar social media initiative could be considered


ON THE TRADING FLOOR

College of the North Atlantic - Qatar (CNA-Q) recently partnered with Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) to offer the college's Business Studies students a taste of working in a stimulating stock market environment.

Q

SE sponsored the College's 6th annual Innovation Challenge, a friendly competition where student teams pitch business ideas to an audience of peers and instructors who collectively rate their performance. The audience simulated a collaborative  Stock Exchange  environment and used crowd-sourcing technology to vote for the business venture they would invest in. To further adapt the simulated event into a real-world learning opportunity, there was a Qatari Individual Investor component, which simulates State of Qatar regulations that 51% of new businesses must be owned by a Qatari national. Qatari students in attendance used the mobile phone app Kahoot! to select the business idea that they would personally invest in. The choices of each of Qatari student investor were then crossreferenced with wider audience stock market ratings to evaluate the students' business sense and ability to select a new venture that is applicable to the broader population. The top three Qatari students who aligned with the wider stock exchange were awarded prizes

from QSE by representatives Fahad Al Sowaidi, Senior Public Relations Officer, and Samer Abu Zaghla, Special Advisor to the Chief Operating Officer. Sowaidi said, "QSE is delighted to be a partner in this competition as we are trying to raise awareness among post-secondary students of how the stock exchange works here in Qatar. The competition was able to deliver this experience in a truly innovative way – this really is an Innovation Challenge." The Innovation Challenge is a cocurricular event whereby the activity is integrated with the School of Business Studies entrepreneurship curriculum. Initially, over 100 business students in six different classes pitched their business ideas to a panel of faculty judges. The top teams from each class were the participants in the 6th annual Innovation Challenge held on December 6, 2016. Peter Moore, CNA-Q s Entrepreneurial Mentor, said,  "The Innovation Challenge resulted in pioneering business ideas that students were truly passionate about, and yielded business ideas that could be very successful new start-up enterprises in Qatar."

73 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > marketwatch FITNESS TRANSFORMED OxFitness Lab recently opened in Doha at The Gate Mall, with the aim to transform Qatar's health, well-being and fitness landscape.

T

he launch of the world-class facility unveiled the most striking and sophisticated array of fitness technologies, training equipment, diagnostic services, analytics, nutrition management, group plus individual fitness programmes and tailor-made training regimes seen to date in Qatar 's market. VIP guests, invitees, members who were welcomed by owners, management and staff enjoyed a tour of the facility equipped with LifeFitness cardio and strength equipment, multifunctional Queenax bridges, which happen to be the largest in the Middle East, and a fully immersive RealRyder studio, Electromyo Stimulation, Pilates Reformer machines, sauna, steam rooms and hot and cold dipping pools. Commenting on the grand opening, Qatar's champion quad racer Abu Issa said, "From an international athlete's perspective, I wanted to design a space that welcomed a beginner and introduced him or her to a whole new world of fitness solutions, without compromising the availability of rigorous training regimes for professional sports people in the country. I am confident that OxFitness Lab will become the kind of energizing space that gives our patrons the power to make their experience exactly what they want it to be."

NEW IN TOWN InterContinental Doha - The City recently announced the promotion of Ahmed Kamel to Director of Rooms Division.

I AHMED KAMEL, Director of Rooms Division

74 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

n line with his new position, Ahmed will oversee the front office, housekeeping, recreation teams and will also support government relations. With over 18 years of hospitality experience with wellknown groups such as Shangri La and Le Royal Meridien, and eight years in particular spent with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Ahmed has been a valued team member of InterContinental Doha - The City since March 2015 and

has achieved a lot in a little less than two years. "I am very proud to have received this distinction and grateful to have been considered for this role. My team has been the greatest support system and we shall continue to work towards our greater goal of creating great hotels guests love," said Ahmed. "I am looking forward to this exciting opportunity as well as all the things to come, and I hope to innovate and help pioneer milestones in my new tenure." 


YOUR FIRST GUIDE TO QATAR In a bid to ensure tourists and visitors enjoy a warm welcome and seamless visitor experience, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced the opening of several tourism information centres and kiosks at the various ports of entry to Qatar.

A

s the country receives large numbers of visitors, thanks to the numerous ongoing festivals taking place this winter, including Shop Qatar, Souq Waqif Festival, Katara Winter Festival and Souq Al Wakrah Spring Festival, QTA has opened several tourism centres and kiosks. According to Rashed Al Qurese, QTA's Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer, the development of the information centres came as a result of a thorough research process in which QTA mapped out tourists'  experiences from the time they plan a trip to the country, through to their bookings and arrival in Qatar. Research has shown that many GCC visitors prefer to make hotel reservations and trip plans upon

arrival, which encouraged QTA to set up a permanent information centre at the Abu Samra crossing. An information desk has also been established at Doha Port, giving cruise visitors access to information about Qatar 's must-see tourism landmarks immediately after they disembark. Another QTA kiosk has opened in the transit area of Hamad International Airport (HIA), offering an opportunity to the 30 million travellers passing through HIA to experience Qatar virtually through a video telescope showing 360-degree videos of the destination. It also hosts a photo booth, which visitors can use to eternalise their memories of Qatar, and visitor brochures available in six languages.

LG: BEST OF THE BEST LG Electronics won more than 90 awards at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. Some of the coveted awards included the official Engadget CES Best of the Best Awards for LG 's revolutionary new LG Signature W7 OLED 4K TV complemented by a variety of best-of-show honours for the W7 and LG Smart InstaView refrigerator. In addition to the top accolades from publications all over the world, LG was the recipient of 21 CES Innovation Awards from the Consumer Technology Association across home appliance, home entertainment and mobile communications categories. LG unveiled brand-new LG Signature products at CES 2017, including the LG Signature OLED TV W-series which leads wins with over 20 awards, employing a show-stopping, entirely new picture-on-wall design.

REDMI 4A LAUNCHED Intertec Group recently launched Xiaomi's new Redmi model 4A on the Qatar market at its showroom in Doha in the presence of Asraf, Division Manager, Trading; Midhun Joseph, Group Marketing Manager; Mohammed, Assistant Manager Sales; and Rafik Showroom Supervisor, along with all team members.

75 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


business > auto news AUDI QATAR STARTS DROPOFF SERVICE Q-Auto, the official importers of Audi in Qatar, launched a free collection and delivery service for all Audi customers in Doha as part of its premier offer scheme.

U

pon scheduling an appointment for servicing or maintenance, the team at Audi Qatar will arrange the pick-up and subsequent drop-off of the vehicle from either home or place of work, without customers having to visit the service centre. Customers who choose to drive their cars to the service centre now have the advantage of a complimentary drop-back facility, which is applicable in any location within Doha. As an added convenience, Audi Qatar has introduced a service valet option, which enables customers to also drop their cars off at the showroom and have it transported to the service centre. During the time that their car is in service, Audi Qatar provides customers with a range of courtesy cars that can be picked up from the service centre.

LURE OF FERRARI’S GTC4LUSSO

T

he GTC4Lusso made its Qatar debut in May. Powered by the 6262cc V12 cylinder, the car’s power output of 690 cv makes it the most powerful vehicle in its segment. With a peak torque of 697 Nm at 5,750 rpm, the vehicle delivers an astonishing top speed of 335 km/h and races from 0 to 100 km in 3.4 seconds. “As its name suggests, the GTC4Lusso imbibes the trademark characteristics of its illustrious predecessors - from the extremely versatile 330GTC to the high-performing 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso,” said Charly Dagher, General Manager of Ferrari Qatar at Alfardan Sports Motors. The all-new GTC4Lusso will join the fleet of premium Prancing Horse cars available at the state-of-theart Ferrari showroom on The Pearl-Qatar.

76 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

Alfardan Sports Motors, the official importer of Ferrari in Qatar, hosted exclusive test drives for its clients to experience the brand-new GTC4Lusso, which marks a revolutionary advancement in the sporting Grand Tourer concept by integrating rearwheel steering with fourwheel drive for the first time.


NEW PORSCHE PANAMERA RANGE LAUNCHED IN QATAR Porsche Centre Doha, owned by Al Boraq Automobiles Co., unveiled two all-wheel drive versions, the Panamera 4S and Turbo, at a special event held for the media and Porsche enthusiasts.

HONDA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF NEW 2017 ACCORD Al-Futtaim’s Doha Marketing Services Company (DOMASCO), the distributor for Honda in Qatar, announced the official launch of the new 2017 Accord in January.

S

peaking at the launch, chairman of the company, Salman Jassem, said, “In the new Panamera, our customers and enthusiasts will experience a fundamentally redesigned car with new turbo engines, sharper exterior design, intuitive interior features and innovative technologies. All Panamera engines have been redesigned to produce more power, whilst significantly improving fuel economy and reducing emissions. Two new twin-turbo engines have been introduced, combined

with the brand’s first eight-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission. The 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo engine of the Panamera 4S produces 440 hp and reaches 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds (4.2 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package), and it has a top speed of 289 km/h. With its powerful petrol engine, the Panamera Turbo’s new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 develops 550 hp at 5,750 rpm, with a maximum torque of 770 Nm between 1,960 and 4,500 rpm. It has 30 hp more than its predecessor as well as a torque increase of 70 Nm.

Apart from getting a major facelift with sportier, more sophisticated styling, the vehicle features restyled alloy wheels on the four cylinders and Honda SensingTM Technology on V6 grades. The new Accord offers choice of 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC 2.4-Liter engine or a 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC 3.5-Liter V6 engine. The 2.4-liter engine in DX and LX grades generates 185-horsepower @ 6400rpm, EX and EXL grades generate a 189-horsepower @ 6400rpm and the V6 model 3.5-liter engine delivers a 278-horsepower@ 6200 rpm. “Prices remain attractive and the Accord continues to offer exceptional value for money. We are inviting everyone to visit our showrooms and take a test drive to experience the ultimate mid-size sedan,” said Head of Sales & Marketing at DOMASCO Honda, Greig Roffey.

A YEAR TO SAVOUR The previous year saw Nasser Bin Khaled Automobiles record a steady growth in terms of sales across various segments.

S

ales of the all new E-Class recorded a 12% growth compared to 2015. In the luxury segment, for the third consecutive year, the luxury sedan S-Class was the top seller in the MercedesBenz portfolio segment. The C-Class also continued its steady sales, especially with the arrival of the all new two-door coupe. The company introduced the S-Class and C-Class Cabriolet as well. Last year also witnessed the launch

of exciting new cars which added great value to the wide range of vehicles that the company offers. Eight new car models were launched, which included C-Coupe, E-Class and the GLS SUV. For the first time in Qatar, NBK Automobiles launched the luxury V-Class, GLC Coupe, S-Cabriolet, C-Cabriolet and G 500 4x42. And as far as customer care was concerned, the company introduced a new vehicle delivery area in its showroom on Salwa Road. 77 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


affairs > doha diary

A MEETING OF YOUNG MINDS

AS A ROTA YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, SAHAR AL ANSARI HAS BEEN PART OF THE EMPOWER ORGANISING COMMITTEE FOR FOUR YEARS RUNNING. HERE, THE ROTA AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUTH INCLUSION AND EXPLAINS HOW HER ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT IN THE QATAR-BASED NGO HAS IMPACTED HER LIFE.

78 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

E

very year, Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) hosts EMPOWER, a youth-led conference which brings together hundreds of passionate young people from Qatar, the region and around the world to voice their opinions on pressing issues that directly affect them. As the only youthled conference of its kind, EMPOWER has developed a reputation for being the only conference that truly represents the voice of our future leaders. The three-day gathering encourages young people in Qatar to assume active roles in building their communities, learn and engage in ROTA’s youth development programme, and take a stand on global issues. For Sahar Al Ansari, Student Government Association President at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) and ROTA Youth Advisory Board member and

ambassador, the conference has helped shape her world view and has instilled in her the leadership skills she never knew she had and connected her to youth from across the globe. How did you first come to know about EMPOWER and how did you get involved? I first got involved with ROTA at the age of 15 when I signed up to take part in their leadership training programme. That was a life-changing experience for me; especially being a middle child, I had never really assumed a leadership role before. The programme nurtured and honed my leadership skills in a very organic way. I came to know about ROTA’s EMPOWER Conference while I was in Washington D.C . attending a National Youth Conference. It was there that I met members of ROTA’s


Youth Advisory Board who were raising awareness about EMPOWER and I saw the inspiring work they were doing and was truly motivated to get involved. Upon my return to Qatar, I became a ROTA Youth Advisory Board member and it’s been an incredible journey thus far. What does your role as a ROTA Youth Advisory Board member entail? From A–Z, the conference is created by youth, for youth and that for me is incredibly meaningful. As a member of ROTA’s Youth Advisory Board, my role is very handson and my opinions and decisions are respected and valued. I am involved in various supervisory and organisational aspects such as deciding on the speakers who will be invited to talk at EMPOWER, as well as the various workshops, seminars and panel discussions. Besides our collective decision-making as members, individually, we are each responsible for managing a specific area, e.g., design, planning, outreach, etc. Why is it so important for initiatives such as EMPOWER to champion for youth inclusion in global matters? It’s vital that youth have a say in the matters and issues that directly affect them. EMPOWER targets issues facing youth, not only here in Qatar, but in the region and across the globe, too. The conference is dedicated to providing a platform for youth to voice their opinions on issues they are facing and to come together to work towards constructive solutions. Furthermore, the conference aims at bringing about greater understanding on social issues, concepts and current affairs in a way that is relatable to youth. Since all the panels are led by youth, youth attendees are able to relate better and are more inspired to turn a challenging situation into a positive one. Can you elaborate on the theme of this year’s EMPOWER – "Sustainable Tourism for Development: A Youth Perspective"? This year’s topic is particularly relevant to Qatar since it is a country made up of such a diverse wider community that tends to travel quite often. Through this year’s theme we aim at promoting and raising awareness about sustainable tourism among youth in Qatar. We want to demonstrate how even the smallest change in travel behaviour can preserve the environment. For example, less luggage means lighter planes, which use less fuel.

It is little changes like these that make a big difference. Also, so many young people in Qatar use Snapchat to document their travels, thus we want to demonstrate how they can promote sustainable tourism to their social media followers and use various platforms to establish a meaningful connection that serves to educate youth on sustainability in tourism. How has your involvement with ROTA impacted your life? It has had a huge impact on life in so many ways. It has really taught me about the power of connection and why a sense of community is so important. Thanks to my involvement with ROTA, I have established meaningful connections with youth from all over the world. Together we are able to communicate effectively and formulate solutions to major issues facing us today, by forming a united front that will serve to enhance our roles as empowered leaders of tomorrow. Talk us through the purpose of the ROTA Youth Service Clubs. Each year, the various youth service clubs bring some incredible initiatives to life. Leading up to EMPOWER, students undergo six weeks of training before they are asked to come up with a social development initiative that will make a positive impact in their community. ROTA then selects the top projects, and winning teams are given the opportunity to present them to the youth attending EMPOWER. It’s incredible to see what the local youth is capable of – we have so much talent among us here in Qatar and the conference provides a platform for us to showcase our innovative ideas. What would your advice be to youth in Qatar? Don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone. It’s so important to try new things and to get involved in organisations that are tackling issues that affect and matter to you. One thing I have learnt is to always embrace every opportunity that comes your way. I am thankful to ROTA as it has changed my life in ways I never expected and has opened so many doors for me. Graduates who are involved in ROTA’s youth development programme tend to have a competitive advantage over their peers since they have already been exposed to professional real-life experiences, which means they are more sought-after in the job market 79 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


city life > doha diary PAINT THE TOWN

Over 7,200 runners participated in the third edition of Color Run on January 28.

CELEBRATING CHINESE CULTURE Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) recently collaborated with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China to present the Chinese Spring Festival.

H

osted by the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) within HKBU 's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which currently offers classes in Mandarin Chinese among a wide range of community-focused language programmes, the event was attended by the ambassador of the People 's Republic of China to the State of Qatar, His Excellency Li Chen, and the founding dean of HBKU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Amal Al Malki. The evening's entertainment included performances by an artistic troupe and marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year, which this year has been designated as the Year of the Fire Rooster. A crowd that included members of the local and Chinese community in Qatar filled the HBKU Student Center cinema and was treated to a range of colourful live performances by Chinese singers, instrumentalists, and dancers. Traditional and contemporary Chinese music accompanied most of the performances, with one song performed in Arabic, to the delight of the audience.

80 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


UNITED, WE STUDY At the sixth annual THIMUN Qatar conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre, students debated important global issues.

O

rganised by Qatar Foundation's Qatar Academy schools and THIMUN Foundation, the three-day conference brought together more than 1,800 Model United Nations (MUN) students from over 80 international schools and 36 local schools, representing 87 nationalities. The ceremony was officially opened with the Flags Procession led by participating student delegations, with the welcome address given by THIMUN Qatar Secretary General, Ahmed Al Hajari, who said, "It 's superb training from where to experience what the UN is about, and to contribute actively and offer fresh solutions. The UN is the only legitimate worldwide platform where countries can meet to reach solutions to global issues. These students learn how to give and take, and how to build coalition. The conference is also wonderfully organised which is reflected in the fact that there are so many countries represented at what is the biggest MUN in the Middle East.” The opening ceremony was also attended by a number of ambassadors and United Nations diplomats.

SMART MALL Complimentary Wi-Fi, Smart Parking and Digital Wayfinding will soon unite to offer a seamless, interactive entertainment and retail experience at Doha Festival City.

D

oha Festival City, Qatar's anticipated entertainment, retail and hospitality destination, has annouced a number of initiatives that will position it as one of the region's leading Smart Malls, utilising the latest technologies to offer a convenient and stress-free experience for visitors when it launches in April. Whilst traditional printed Mall Guides will also be available, digital wayfinding, conveniently located throughout the mall, will offer a quick and easy alternative and visitors can also search events and offers, and find

out what entertainment is happening in the Mall. Doha Festival City will also offer visitors seamless connectivity with complimentary Wi-Fi to ensure visitors can find and share information and experiences. Before even setting foot in the Mall, customers can begin their interactive journey by visiting the new website at www. festivalcitydoha.com. The website offers an optimised experience where they can browse special offers and the Mall directory on all devices, from desktops and tablets to mobile on-the-go.

LET 'S FLY AWAY The longest aircraft in all of KidZania landed in Aspire Park, as the award-winning edutainment concept is set to launch in the first quarter of 2018 in Doha. The Boeing 737-500 aircraft will perfectly complementing the aviation section at KidZania.

GUTER FILM Doha Film Institute recently marked its celebration of the Qatar Germany Year of Culture 2017 with a compelling showcase of German films by master film-makers at the Museum of Islamic Arts Auditorium.

Organised in cooperation with the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region and Qatar Museums, the German Film Week underlines the year-long cultural collaboration between Qatar and Germany to build a legacy of artistic exchange. Fatma Al Remaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Doha Film Institute, said, "The modern masters in German cinema have set innovative trends and approaches in film-making, which are showcased through our programme that includes classics from Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog along with contemporary titles with two films focused on the youth. These films are not only entertaining but also of great educational value for our emerging film talents, who can benefit from experiencing the diverse genres included in the showcase." Dr Elke Kaschl Mohni, Regional Director MENA of the Goethe-Institut, commented, "We feel that we can reach out to the Qatari and international audience in Doha especially through the medium of film which is accessible to almost everyone and gives an interesting insight into the German culture and history throughout the last 90 years."

81 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017


A day in the life of... Khalid Al Suwaidi Professional Beekeeper

Qatar Today follows the daily routines of professionals around the country from all walks of life.

Few people can say that they own 1,500 bees. Al Suwaidi does, however, and those who knew him when he was young are unsurprised. When he was around 8-10 years old, he would find Qatari jungle bee nests to steal their honey as a gift for his father. Now he buys Egyptian bees, since they are able to live in bee boxes unlike the local bees that cannot nest outside of trees.

By Lindsey Knepshield Since Al Suwaidi began his apiary business in 2010, his weekdays have rarely been routine. Rather than chronicling his day, we asked him to walk us through the honey-making cycle at Bu Saif Apiaries.

Now that the bees have arrived, they start drinking the nearby flower nectar. Honey taste and colour are dependent on the flower nectar, and the renowned taste of Bu Saif honey is due to the many sidr trees. Sadly this high-quality honey comes with a price: the bees here are less industrious than their European counterparts, which means noticeably smaller honey yields.

While the bees are thickening the nectar into honey, Al Suwaidi and his team of beekeepers must work around the clock to defend the hive against their enemies. Ants are relatively easy to ward off with green netting inside the bee boxes, but snakes and scorpions can also sneak inside. The most malicious of predators is the European bee-eater: just one bird can consume 100 bees per day.

The honey is then cleaned, bottled and sold. One of Al Suwaidi’s newer business ventures is the Abu Saif Cafe in Souq Waqif, where every item is made with Bu Saif honey. While ordering, make sure to avoid the cardinal sin of adding sugar to your already honey-sweetened tea!

Bees naturally overproduce honey, meaning harvesting is a service to the bees themselves. Al Suwaidi harvests the honey on a monthly basis, visiting all 16 of his properties to collect an annual yield of 15-20 tonnes.

82 > QATAR TODAY > FEBRUARY 2017

Unfortunately, there is one enemy Al Suwaidi cannot fight: Qatar’s oppressive summer heat, which can kill 80-90% of a hive. Rather than see his bees perish, Al Suwaidi releases them into the wild, buying new ones once the temperatures cool to start the cycle over again.



Qatar Today February 2017